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Microsoft Government The Courts News

Microsoft and EU Talks End 1028

Posted by michael
from the should-have-used-bootlicking-skill dept.
Paul Longford writes "Microsoft talks with the EC have collapsed. The competition commisioner Mario Monti just made this statement in which he said: 'I'd just like to inform you that a settlement on the Microsoft case has not been possible. I therefore intend to propose to my colleagues in the Commission next Wednesday to adopt a decision, which has already received the unanimous backing of Member States.' This is bad news for Microsoft - it looking at a considerable fine and possibly being forced to open up Windows. It looks like it will be a harsh decision too. Monti says: 'In the end, I had to decide what was best for competition and consumers in Europe. I believe they will be better served with a decision that creates a strong precedent.'"
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Microsoft and EU Talks End

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  • It's about time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jaywalk (94910) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:18AM (#8597979) Homepage
    I'm glad to see that at least Europe still has some functioning antitrust laws, unlike the US where antitrust laws were effectively gutted [metrolink.net] by the judiciary.
  • by Amiga Lover (708890) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:20AM (#8598001)
    OK so they get fined and told how to distribute windows.

    Who thinks this will REALLY change anything? That MS will go a little bit more restricted in how media stuff is installed from a start, but they'll keep on doing the same old crap in every other part of their dealings with the EU
  • Harsh?!? Opening? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leandrod (17766) <l.dutras@org> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:22AM (#8598021) Homepage Journal
    How harsh? A fine and opening MS Windows to Real, Quicktime and the like?

    This is next to nothing. Nothing short of breaking up MS and demanding published, open APIs, protocols and file formats will do.
  • by SeinJunkie (751833) <seinjunkie@gmail.com> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:23AM (#8598035) Homepage

    MS, enjoy paying the money

    Yeah, I'm sure money is sooo scarce for Microsoft.
    "A fine?!? This could ruin us!"
    I wish it could make a bigger impact on their finances.
  • And now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by devnullkac (223246) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:24AM (#8598040) Homepage
    And now begins the lengthy foot-dragging and political manipulations to elect someone(s) who will direct the competition commission to decide MS has suffered enough and we should all go back to our Windows desktops.
  • I want to know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lga (172042) * on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:25AM (#8598045) Homepage Journal
    ...how they will enforce this. What reason has Microsoft got to give in and pay up? It's not like the EU can ban sales of Windows, too many computer purchasers would be terrified of the alternatives. Even if Windows was banned in Europe, the people wouldn't buy computers with Linux on, they would buy Macs.

    Sad but true.
  • by LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:26AM (#8598070) Homepage Journal
    I doubt this will take place w/out a long drawn out fight. Microsoft will drag this out as long as possible.
  • Who thinks this will REALLY change anything? That MS will go a little bit more restricted in how media stuff is installed from a start, but they'll keep on doing the same old crap in every other part of their dealings with the EU

    that's why they want the strong precident so they go after MS again and again until they play fair (or they go bankrupt wwhich lets face it is more likley than them playing fair)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:27AM (#8598079)
    So does this mean that Windows will eventually become a pure OS, with no usable applications? I mean, there are commercial "competitors" in every arena.

    No Web Browser (Netscape)
    No Media Player (Real)
    No Word/Wordpad (Wordperfect)
    No Imaging (ACDSee)
    No Defrag (Notron Works)
    No Zip support (WinZip)
    No Solitaire (...)

    Seems pretty useless to Joe Average, who just wants to turn on his new PC and play his MP3s and check his email.
  • Re:Disincentive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BCW2 (168187) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:28AM (#8598087) Journal
    Whats next is complete control of the internet. How if you don't think thats what .NET is aimed at is blind.
  • Ohh yeah (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:28AM (#8598090)
    Like this is really going to do anything. People always whine about shit being inlcuded in windows. Face it, not everyone wants a choice in what they use. Dont like Media player? Use somthing else, Dont like windows use something else and shut up. Bunch of whiney linux zealots. I use Linux (and FreeBSD, no it *isnt* dead) and *gasp* even Windows. Get a life and go do something else besides living on online forums bitching about how evil Microsoft is, code software, make that killer alternative. Until then shut up.

  • by MrIrwin (761231) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:29AM (#8598096) Journal
    The biggest penalty is not the fine but the "requirements", such as shipping non MS media players and opening up some proprietry standards to competitors.
  • by Decaff (42676) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:32AM (#8598134)
    Its not useless at all. Things would be back to where they were before Microsoft started cramming everything in the OS. PC sellers could give the customer a choice about what browser, mail client, media player etc. was preinstalled.
  • by TiggsPanther (611974) <.tiggs. .at. .m-void.co.uk.> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:33AM (#8598142) Journal

    I have to say that much as I am anti-Microsoft and think they've got a monopoly that needs dealing with, I am rather worried about what this will mean.

    Well, slightly worried, anyway.

    If Windows is deemed anticompetitive in the media-stakes, well all that can really be done is to force MS to allow WIndows to come with alternatives installed. That's not really gonna affect them. It sure ain't gonna affect me, as should I ever buy another Windows PC then the first thing I'll do (like with my current one) is to repartition and reinstall to my tastes. So if Real & Quicktime are included, they won't be for long.
    And there's no easy way they can force MS to include them on an installation disc, at least not wtihout clearing the licensing with Apple and Real.

    And in all honesty, I can't see MS being forced to break up and open up any time soon. It just isn't going to happen.

    Tiggs
  • by holy_smoke (694875) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:33AM (#8598146)
    http://money.cnn.com/2004/03/18/news/international /microsoft_eu.reut/index.htm

    "The company is certain to appeal against a Commission decision in the European courts. Litigation could take several years."

    At which time any verdict will be pretty much irrelevant.

    Wonder how this affects Longhorn planning. Anyone with insight on this?

  • by nojomofo (123944) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:34AM (#8598156) Homepage
    The very last thing that Microsoft wants to do is to force a very large number of people and business to use alternative software.
  • Re:And now... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:37AM (#8598184)
    Except for the fact that businesses dont have much direct influence in european politics. Most european countries have far harsher laws against donations to political campaigns (bribes) than the us.

    Besides, I dont think being a ruthless american company is a very good way of getting along with the political majority in europe right now.
  • by pjt33 (739471) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:37AM (#8598189)
    I'd also invalidate ALL licenes in Europe..
    Did someone say class-action lawsuit?
  • by Wonda (457426) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:38AM (#8598201)
    I'd also rip support of all European languages unless you paid mucho..

    You are aware of english being a European language? :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:39AM (#8598203)
    Not really chilling at all. Microsoft has the best hand no matter what any company, law firm, or government agency says. It can simply say it will stop supporting and releasing patches for its products and that it will close it's doors and go out of business before it releases it source. This would leave a huge number of users and admins scrambling to find another platform. This would effectively grind the IT sector to a halt.

    For all you zealots who says we can use Linux instead, that is great in theory but imagine the economic impact of replacing 80% of the computer desktops and a smaller but significant number of the servers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:39AM (#8598205)
    Not a troll! Interesting point! Should at least be modded up to 1 so people can decide for themselves! MODS ARE IDIOTS! Why not reply instead of modding down!?!
  • Is it just me? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kabocox (199019) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:42AM (#8598236)
    Is it just me or does this seem alot less of the "EU using anti-trust laws", and more of "EU removing USA trust from domiance in EU market." Why do have the feeling if MS was based in UK that suit wouldn't have been filed. (Of course if MS was based outside the US, the US would actually fine them in money and not software.) I feel the real reason Linux has been getting used in goverments has more to do with hiring of local contractors to keep it running than saving any money.

    Remember it is about power, politics, and money. Not right or wrong.
  • by lildogie (54998) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:42AM (#8598245)
    If the Bush administration had been tougher on Microsoft, maybe they would have solved these problems before Europe stomped on them.

    When Microsoft is forced to behave everywhere _except_ the United States, then they will end up having to behave in the USA as well.

    Getting an easy sentence from the US Anti-Trust conviction may not have been as favorable as it looked originally.
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:43AM (#8598263) Homepage
    The EU commision is composed by people suggested by the national governments, and approved as a whole by the EU parliament. Most of the national governments are elected by the national parliaments, which is mostly composed by people elected on party lists in a propertional system, rather than directly by the voters.

    It is an extremely indirect form for democracy, at best, and it is easy to influence by lobbyism and somewhat prone to corruptions. And it is damn slow. However, it is much harder to influence by manipulating the elections. There is no "single point of failure" like with the US president.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:44AM (#8598270) Journal
    They can't unilaterally revoke the licence. They could only refuse to support the software. This would be a great benefit to their competitors, and we would see a whole slew of competing operating systems, some open source, others proprietry, to fill in the hole.
  • Re:Good job EU! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Catbeller (118204) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:44AM (#8598274) Homepage
    Just to keep history straight: our judicial system (just about) worked, with the exception of the conservative appeals judges giving Judge Jackson a special hate-filled working over after he found against Microsoft.

    The problem was the Bush Justice Department. Ashcroft simply refused to do anything, and let the decision be unenforced, thus snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    The judicial system worked, after all those long years. Bush, who believes any regulation of business is socialistic if not outright communistic, according to an old Harvard business professor of his, finds the anti-monopoly laws distasteful in the extreme, and his cohorts are vetted to agree with such beliefs. When Bush was elected, the Microsoft case was effectively lost.
  • by southpolesammy (150094) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:45AM (#8598281) Journal
    It may very well be better for their products, but it probably will not be better for the shareholders. Microsoft's stock holders benefit greatly from MS's unfair advantage and if that is stripped away, the stock will suffer, and that can cause a cascade effect.

    For example, if revenue dries up but expenses stay the same, something is going to get cut back. This could be as minimal as the stoppage of contributions to MS's $50B piggy bank or it could mean cutbacks in developer jobs, but rest assured, something will get cut. So overall, this probably doesn't bode well for Microsoft, even if they do open up their sources or API's.
  • by The Lynxpro (657990) <lynxpro@g m a i l.com> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:46AM (#8598288)
    "Even if Windows was banned in Europe, the people wouldn't buy computers with Linux on, they would buy Macs."

    You make it sound like Europeans buying Macs is a bad thing... I beg to differ. Giving a larger infusion into Apple means more useful R&D. Microsoft spends a lot on R&D and still cannot make its products immune from script kiddies or crashes and the like. Getting more Macs (and hopefully G5 Macs) means giving a larger stake of the industry over to IBM and the PPC architecture, which is good for competition. Look at Intel; footdragging on 64 bit consumer chips, running hotter with each model, and power consumption is getting out of hand. Perhaps such a shift in an important market like Europe would return their focus back to their design centers and start taking a serious look at power consumption.

    And as for the open source side, the last time I checked, Apple's Safari is based upon KHTML, and that comes from the Linux side. An operating system based upon BSD. Those are some credentials when compared to the current standard (Microsoft). So why are you complaining?

    And just as a note, just because Best Buy (here in the US) is dropping Macs from their stores does not mean people aren't switching to Macs; it just means that Best Buy employees do not know how to successfully sell them. You can get some deals on eMacs and PowerMac G4's right now there. They haven't cut the prices on the iBooks or PowerBooks yet though...

  • by guyblade (763305) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:47AM (#8598297) Homepage
    A government simply says, "We need this to do business so we're going to continue using it and pay you when you decide to try to bill us...maybe."

    Right of way laws and such...

    Ah, I love government.
  • by pubjames (468013) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:47AM (#8598302)
    Given the anti-american semtiment in europe

    It's anti-Bush sentiment. Of course Bush supporters don't see any difference, but there is one.

  • by ejaw5 (570071) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:48AM (#8598311)
    During the install it should give you the options:

    Web Browser
    [ ] IE
    [ ] Mozilla

    Media Player
    [ ] WMP
    [ ] Real
    [ ] WinAmp

    Text Editing
    [ ] Wordpad
    [ ] Notepad
    [ ] OpenOffice

    Imaging
    [ ] ACDSee
    [ ] MS Imaging
    [ ] Gimp
    [ ] MS Paint ...and so on instead of forcing IE/OE and others in the default install
  • by Cooper_007 (688308) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:49AM (#8598330)
    The EU's goal isn't to promote Linux. Their goal is to prevent Microsoft from abusing its monopoly.

    Plus, what's so bad about people running Macs these days?

    Cooper
    --
    Don't you just love the sound of nature?
    - Ginger Snaps II -

  • by DF5JT (589002) <slashdot@bloatware.de> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:50AM (#8598337) Homepage
    "Who thinks this will REALLY change anything?"

    It will change the consumers' perception of what Microsoft actually is: An anti-competitive monopolist with questionable business practices.

  • by smashr (307484) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:50AM (#8598338)
    well, without getting caught up in the typical slashdot mentality of MS==bad here, lets take a look at the double standard the EU is imposing. Corporations like DuBeers are hands down an order of magnitude worse than microsoft in all sorts of ways. The EU is acting because Microsoft is an American company - not because they are sticking up for some greater ideal.
  • by FesterDaFelcher (651853) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:51AM (#8598350)
    How? Microsoft makes very little (proportionally) on their support contracts. MS makes a heap on desktop sales. If all of those desktop sales were to go away, of course their support contracts would increase, but not by enough to offset the cost of (almost) every computer being sold with Windows on it.
  • by Gorath99 (746654) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:51AM (#8598352)
    The reason they got to give in is simply that they got too much to lose. Why would Microsoft want to operate outside the law? Don't you think that would hurt their reputation so much that many companies, government divisions and home users that are now perfectly happy to use MS products would then think twice about continuing to do so? And I'm not just talking about companies etc. in the EU.

    And besides, it's not like there isn't a lot of MS property in the EU that can be dispossessed (there are probably a few copies of the source code of most MS products over here too). Local managers probably aren't too fond of the prospect of jail time either.

    And even if those things weren't true, I don't think that Washington likes the idea of a rebellant Microsoft and a pissed off EU. I highly doubt they'll keep quiet about such a move.
  • by fredrik70 (161208) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:52AM (#8598359) Homepage
    wehey! lots of nice juicy contracts for us! ;-)
  • by TimmyJoeB (5950) <timmyjoe2@comcas[ ]et ['t.n' in gap]> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:55AM (#8598394)
    If you do not want the Ford CD player, guess what? Ford will sell you a car without a Ford CD player, not charge you for it, and you can put in your own. WOW! That is totally different than saying, well we are going to sell you this damn CD player and if you do not waht fuck you. YOu have to take or else you cannot get a Ford. That is more like MS approach.
  • by lga (172042) * on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:55AM (#8598396) Homepage Journal
    Modern Linux distributions are NOT hard. Mandrake, SuSE, Fedora, Xandros, Lindash, etc. All easy. Please mod the parent down. He has obviously not tried a distro with KDE 3.2 on it.


    You are an idiot. Did I say Linux was hard? No. I said people wouldn't use it. I think Linux is fantastic. I use it everyday at home. That doesn't change the fact the normal, everyday people WILL NOT USE IT! They are wrong, but they are still scared of it.
  • by azzy (86427) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:57AM (#8598422) Journal
    > imagine the economic impact

    Errr.. I am.. lots of news jobs for Linux-savvy people like me, with MSc's in computer science but a lame job.

    I for one welcome... a... uh.... new job?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:59AM (#8598442)
    I'd imagine they'll pull the same crap they did with their J++ dev studio: present an "option" to not install WMP, with a stern warning saying Windows may become unstable (hah!) if it's not installed.

    They'll probably include a seedy reference to the Commission decision forcing them to do this too.
  • by maroberts (15852) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:00AM (#8598447) Homepage Journal
    I'm generally in favour of Open Source software, but my attitude is that if Microsoft make an OS, they should be free to sell what they want with it, regardless of whether they have 5% or 90% of the market.

    I know this attitude screwed Netscape over, but consider that the reverse side could be seen as SCOs; "the others have become more advanced, rendering our technology obselete, but we should be able to sit on our butts and get licensing fees"

    I do not really feel that governments should interfere in the market, except that in recognition of the fact that they are the largest buyers, they should mandate as much open standards for all software that they purchase and use. Banning use of proprietary standards in all government dealings would be a much greater incentive to open source software and competition than all the market regulation and fines could ever achieve.
  • by Karamchand (607798) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:00AM (#8598450)
    Don't get me wrong, but there ain't just Linux. There's a pile of other operating systems being developed. Think about the BSDs, think about various more academic-research oriented OSs.
  • US involvement? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DamienMcKenna (181101) <damien AT mc-kenna DOT com> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:01AM (#8598460)
    I'm expecting Microsoft to next try using their US politicians to cause problems for the EU over this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:02AM (#8598474)
    Your points are valid, but I think the issue is escaping you. Yes MS beat the competition fair and square, on their merits, with superior products.

    The issue is how they have have 'abused' the position of a monopoly having suceeded.

    There is a perenial general problem of how to deal with monopolies. In the limit monopolies defeat free market capitalism as surely as socialism.

    Ideally power should be asymptotic, ie very easy to get to 50% market dominance, harder to get to 60/70% and damn near impossible to go above 80/90% market dominance.

    Unfortunately unchecked free markets have the opposite (positive) feedback effect. Having achieved 50% market dominance it becomes EASIER to go the next mile. That's why government intervention is a necessary evil.
  • by Jaywalk (94910) * on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:02AM (#8598486) Homepage
    That's why the link. There's an overview of the main arguments here [metrolink.net] and the main site's here [metrolink.net]. I found the site and joined the mailing list when I was following the IE/Netscape case.

    The basic case is that the courts have changed antitrust in such a way as to make it impossible for the plaintiff to win. For example, they've added an argument that the plaintiff must prove "harm to the consumer". In the Microsoft case, Netscape proved that Microsoft had used it's Windows monopoly to destroy Netscape's market share, but Microsoft argued that doing so had not harmed the consumer. Such an argument can't be proved either way without using a crystal ball. It used to be assumed that limiting competition harmed the consumer. Competition is what capitalism is supposed to be about, right?

    Microsoft also argued that Netscape might have gone bankrupt anyway due to their own poor business decisions. That's kind of like arguing that the guy you just shot might have been hit by a car because he got a jaywalking ticket last week, but the court's seem to have bought the argument.

  • by thenextpresident (559469) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:02AM (#8598491) Homepage Journal
    I see two sides of it here in my office. I use Linux, as well as a few other staffers here. Other people use Windows. Each uses Linux or Windows by choice.

    Why do they use Windows? Because it's default, it's the defacto, it's the "standard" that has been created. They send and receive Word .DOC files. .DOC's aren't proprietary as far as they are concerned. They don't care about the licensing issues behind mp3's and other file formats. They don't care because they just don't know.

    So I hear reports that Microsoft is patenting it's XML formats (or something along those lines) for the next version of Word. When OpenOffice can't read these files for legal reasons, is that going to be Microsoft's fault, or OpenOffice's fault? We know what the answer is, but these guys don't care. They aren't lawyers, and they just want to do their job without worrying about what license their computer is operating under.

    Microsoft abused it's power. It's that simple. The fact that competition is starting to come out is a good thing, but you don't have to be the only one to violate anti-trust laws (or else Microsoft would never have gone to trial in the first place, as other OS's have always existed). However, I don't know the EU anti-trust laws at all, so I can only imagine they broke them there as well.

    The point is, by forcing this on Microsoft, it will ensure competition. I don't want to see the end of Microsoft, but rather, I want to see the beginning of a standards based environment where competitors compete on the quality of their product.

    Hopefully this decision will allow such an environment to prosper and grow.
  • Re:Good job EU! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by adam613 (449819) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:04AM (#8598520)
    Bush wasn't elected. He was appointed by the judicial system. If Bush's presidency marked the end of the Microsoft case, the judicial system did NOT work.
  • Re:Is it just me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shimbo (100005) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:05AM (#8598533)
    Is it just me or does this seem alot less of the "EU using anti-trust laws", and more of "EU removing USA trust from domiance in EU market." Why do have the feeling if MS was based in UK that suit wouldn't have been filed.

    The EU commission does enforce anti-trust laws on European companies on a regular basis. And yes, they would love Europe to have a stronger position in the global software market.

    However, in this case, it's hard to see a strong domestic interest. Who benefits: Apple, Real? They aren't well-known European companies.

  • by matdodgson (203405) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:06AM (#8598549)
    I think it's a different situation in Europe than in the USA.

    Getting ripped off by MS in the USA is ok because the money just goes to Seattle. However, getting ripped off by MS in Europe is bad because the money doesn't stay in Europe.

    I think Europeans will be more inclined to stick to their guns in this case. I suppose time will tell.
  • Punishing Microsoft for monopolistic behavior is hardly ... uhm ... post-Christian marxist-fascist-existentialist nihilist behaviour.

    It's straight-forward execution of the state's obligation to enforce rules of fair play as defined by consensus and trial-and-error through the ages. One of those is to prevent manipulation of markets by parties powerful enough to take a monopoly position.

    Monopolists distort the markets and supress free competition so as to extract maximum resources from consumers. This is bad for innovation, for economic performance and for society as a whole. There is only one organ that we grant the right to raise taxes, and that is the State itself.

    The EU are doing their job. The US have failed to do this perhaps because the State and Business are too close together.

    BTW, wtf does p-C m-f-e-n actually mean? I mean, wtfffff??
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:10AM (#8598608)
    Europe has been dealing with terrorism far longer than you could ever imagine. We've had our Wars on Terror and we know far more about terrorism than you apparently believe.

    Some of Europe's terrorism has even been funded by Americans, but for some reason GW isn't bombing people in Boston for donating to NORAID/IRA. Terrorism's a funny old thing isn't it?
  • by nickco3 (220146) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:12AM (#8598633)
    You are thinking Microsoft sells windows directly to the public, and it doesn't. The missing component in this vision are the OEMs. The real outcome here is not that MS will be forced to bundle these other apps with Windows, but that they will no longer be able to prevent (European) OEMs from doing so.

    So think OEMs, these are the companies that actually distribute Windows, not Microsoft.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:12AM (#8598638)
    Too bad they are not going for the only sanction that would actually make a difference in promoting competition:

    Stopping the force-feeding of Winodws with new PC:s.

    There should be a law that would REQUIRE the OS to be a separate item in the bill for a new PC. If someone does not want it, the PC must be cheaper by exactly the normal retail price of the OS (no matter which OS). The OS could be pre-installed, no problem, but if the customer does not want it, the dealer must remove the OS and lower the price.

    As I see it, THIS would be the only way to level the paying field for OS'es.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:13AM (#8598650)
    This could be as minimal as the stoppage of contributions to MS's $50B piggy bank or it could mean cutbacks in developer jobs, but rest assured, something will get cut.

    This is GREAT news for me. With MS developer jobs being slashed left and right, and the sudden shift in perspective that MS is not the un-stoppable monolith that everyone thinks it is, Linux jobs will grow.

    Half the jobs I've been searching in my area are stupid ASP, VBNet and other retarded MS technologies.

    In fact, this is would probably be an even bigger boon for Java, so that wishy-washy execs could keep one foot in the MS pool while trying out other platforms.
  • by ttsalo (126195) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:14AM (#8598652)
    why can't they just not sell software in Europe?

    Are you kidding? If they did that, they would effectively kick themselves out of a market that is GDP- and population-wise larger than US. MS products would be replaced with other alternatives(*) and they would lose their monopoly grip on the market, as the alternatives would show themselves to be viable elsewhere too.

    (*) I'm not saying that the alternatives (which would probably be Linux- and BSD-based desktop environments and office applications) would be completely ready tomorrow, but the instantly opened 400M+ person market would give them a bit of boost...

    --

  • by naelurec (552384) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:14AM (#8598660) Homepage
    Lets take the analogy a bit further..

    Ford (Microsoft) has 90% of the market. Gas stations have pumps (hardware/drivers) that only work on Fords and virtually all dealers (dell, gateway, etc..) will only sell you a Ford. Parking spots, roadways .. heck even your music system and the repair shops use Ford as the defacto standard. Of course, Ford has patents and strong arm tactics to maintain its position in the market.

    You could buy a Toyota (Red Hat). Unfortunately when you do, you realize that you end up having to find different pumps to get gas (which are few and far between), cannot buy a Toyota fully assembled (computer w/Red Hat installed) and end up having to buy a Ford (Wintel machine) and installing Toyota parts (Red Hat & software). Of course, even after you have your Toyota and you realize it is better (more fuel efficient, more reliable, more features, etc..), you find that Ford's dominance adversely affects the full potential of your Toyota. You no longer can use the local pumps down the street, you end up having to do maintenance by yourself (as very few if any of the shops will service your Toyota), and worse of all, your favorite parking spots, streets and music (software) is not supported full on the Toyota so you end up either having to find completely new music, new places to drive and new parking spots or end up simply being constrained on where you can go.

    The bottom line is this -- cars don't work this way. I had a Honda and bought a Toyota. My CDs still worked in in, I could still get the same gas, drive the same roads, park in the same parking spots. The basic fundamental "user interface" is the same -- perhaps laid out slightly different. I can get it serviced at a wide variety of places, get the oil changed at the neighborhood gas station. No problems.

    Unfortunately, when talking about computer system choice, this is obviously not as "drop in and go" as you make it out to be. The fact that Microsoft monopolized the market, coerced OEMs into supporting only MS products (bundling deals and the like), effectively dumps their product to get people hooked and does not follow industry standards to maintain a certain level of lock-in adversely affects everyone.
  • Re:Is it just me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by malkavian (9512) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:16AM (#8598677) Homepage
    The antitrust legislations have also come down hard on the EU companies. About the only one in 2004 from the US so far is Microsoft.
    Basically, they're showing that they have teeth to ALL who trade in the EU, both native and foreign.
    If MS had been based in the EU, they'd have been defanged harshly at the initial hearing (unlike in the US where they got given a slap on the wrist, told to be good boys, and let loose to cause havoc again).
    The reason Linux has been getting used in Governments is to help stop frequent virus infections, use an OS which they can tailor themselves, and isn't locked in to one vendor saying what they can and cannot do with it, and charging extortionate prices for that.
    Even if they used Windows to run Government offices, they'd still need local contractors to run the machines..
    If the offices believe they save money, then it's a fair bet in the long run that they will.
    And it certainly stops the 'single point of failure' that a single vendor solution presents.
  • by ehanneken (18998) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:24AM (#8598762)
    Remember when Microsoft first bundled a TCP/IP stack with Windows (I think it was Windows 95)? TCP/IP vendors complained bitterly, and suggested that Microsoft should be forced to sell Windows without TCP/IP. I wonder if that issue will be revisited. If Microsoft's right to control its own property is compromised, I don't see where the line can be drawn.

    Come to think of it, there was a time when third parties sold memory managers for Windows . . .
  • by gfxguy (98788) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:28AM (#8598802)
    I'm not an MS fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm curious as to what people here think is "fair" in a realistic sense.

    Open Source is nice, for example, but does that mean proprietary software is "unfair?"

    So we can come to the car analogy again, for example, if someone starts putting proprietary air filters or even a proprietary stereo (where you can't figure out the connections, for example - you'd have to rip out all the old speakers and everything and completely replace it to put a new one in). Those things would really suck, and make me not want to buy that car, but would it really be "unfair?" Should the government step in and say that car manufacturer can no longer install stock stereo systems?

    I realize we can go around in circles about what consumers are "forced" to buy when they buy a new computer, but the fact is that now, more than there has been in the past 20 years, there is a choice. So we can rag on all the losers that don't know a bit from a byte or what an OS even is, but if they are the majority and they want their "free" media player/browser/whatever installed when they buy the computer, is it "fair" to tell them they can't have that? Isn't this just making things difficult for the vast majority of the people involved?

    I suppose we can look at future rewards from current hardships, but we have to ask if it's really necessary.

    For the record, I don't buy MS software, I won't even buy an X-Box even though I love games, I just can't bear the thought of giving my money to MS. However, I'm not such an idiot that I don't understand why other people do it, and they should be free to do it if they want. People should start taking personal responsibility, if they put up with that crap, the manufacturers will abuse them - the same as we are being abused by the RIAA and MPAA and keep going back for more. If enough people abandon MS, they will get the picture.

    A subscription to Mandrake, for example, is a good start... so is not buying cheapbytes discs, but buying them from the actual distributers. Macinstosh, for many, is also a fine solution, although I have no doubt that given the market share they'd be just as bad, if not worse, than MS.

    Let's assume there's 500,000 slashdot subscribers. Let's assume 80% are open source advocates who use Linux. Let's assume they all did the $60/year Mandrake subscription. That's 400,000 * 60 = $24,000,000 that goes to Mandrake Linux. Let's say Mandrake is supporting a number of OpenSource projects. All those projects improve (not necessarily) and create more demand. After two years, 800,000 people subscribe. That's how it's supposed to happen, not by crying to the government to impose restrictions on your competition so that everything is "fair" - that's like a Harrison Bergeron world.

    I'm really beginning to hate the word "fair", because I don't think most people actually understand what it means.

    BTW, cheers to the people in the EU who fought this fight and made it happen. I don't know about any of your constitutions as much as I'd certainly like to, but the U.S. constition has no provision that life will be "fair".

    This is not to say I don't agree with laws banning some monopoly tactics (like dumping and tying), just that I think it's not as clear cut as a lot of people think (is MS dumping their product by giving it for free with the OS when other companies don't charge for their media players or browsers?) Even the tying claims are difficult because it does give better performance to integrate some things with the OS, even if we all disagree that the performance gains outweight the problems that can cause.

    I guess my biggest problem with all this is that it is not going to make MS go away, or even lose marketshare. As such, it's not going to cause third party developers to support linux or open standards (which is what we really want, isn't it?). We can't rely on the government to do that.

    MS cannot "beat" OpenSource software, but it can keep us b
  • Re:And now... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:28AM (#8598805) Homepage Journal
    Read up on EU political workings.

    The commission is not elected, and is in fact more powerful than the parliament. Not very democratic, but on the other hand also not subject to the kind of manipulation that you point out (and that is so common in the US).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:29AM (#8598823)
    How many consumers are even aware of this case? How many care?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:30AM (#8598845)
    I seriously doubt we'll see MS closing up shop anytime soon. Other vendors and the open source community produce software with open API's and they're still around so MS will likely survive too. More than likely, we'll find better alternatives to individual components (mail clients, media players, file browsers, etc..) and we'll sometimes find that the competition will drive MS to improve their own products.

    For all you zealots who says we can use Linux instead, that is great in theory but imagine the economic impact of replacing 80% of the computer desktops and a smaller but significant number of the servers.

    Remember that Linux isn't the only alternative to MS Win32 systems. Also consider the amount of business that was generated due to computer events like "Year 2000". In todays economy, a change like this might actually be welcome for those that could capitalize on it.

    The US could see a Clinton like economy again (one supported by the unreal ".com" industry and the fear of "Y2K" - I believe without these, Clinton would likely have had the economy that Bush has today) if we have this artificial economic stimuli.
  • by hey (83763) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:35AM (#8598890) Journal
    DuBeers has a near monopoly in diamonds while Microsoft has a near monopoly in desktop computers.
    I donno about you but I use my computer more than diamonds!
  • Re:Disincentive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tin Foil Hat (705308) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:37AM (#8598904)
    MS need to be given a disincentive to abuse their monopoly power again (IE, WMP, what's next?).

    It's poorly phrased, but that's a very interesting question. In the fight for the desktop, Microsoft has two big guns, MS Windows and MS Office. These two products enable them to sell all sorts of server stuff to support them - things like Exchange Server and MS SQL Server and, to a lesser extent, other types of collaborative software. Open Source companies have correctly identified this situation, so you see a lot of development taking place in the OS/Desktop and office productivity realms. You also see a lot of activity in the backoffice support technologies.

    This competition is not going to just go away. Microsoft's competitors have realized that competing on level ground with Microsoft is damn near impossible. Very few corporations are capable of it. In this climate open source technologies provide a way to compete that Microsoft cannot defend against effectively. In the past, Microsoft would simply buy out the competition or use their muscle to compete unfairly (embrace and extend). They can't do that any longer because part of the equation has been broken. Microsoft cannot buy it's competition without endangering it's own business model. Even if they were to buy an open source company, another one would spring up immediately with an identical product. Without that leverage, embrace and extend doesn't work because the number of competitors (who effectively can't be bought) is simply too great.

    Faced with these pressures, Microsoft is doing all they can to increase customer lock-in so that customers are less likely to take advantage of open source alternatives. They are also doing all they can to undermine the open source movement without looking like an Ogre, or at least not like too much of one. One of the classic ways to increase customer lock-in is to bundle applications with the desktop that operate only on that desktop. Windows Media Player is an excellent example, as is MSN Messenger. They also offer cut rates on premium items like MS Money to computer retailers so that they will bundle the product. With all of these products bundled on the computer, customers are less likely to switch to alternatives because none of the applications they use on a regular basis will run. This means that they must re-learn all of their skills instead of just a couple new applications.

    But now they are facing competition that is entrenched, nearly unassailable, and getting better every day. Microsoft's monopoly days are numbered and they know it. All they can do is try to forstall the inevitable for as long as possible, and they will do this by tightening customer lock-in more and more until there is a major sea-change in the market. Specifically, they will continue to bundle more applications. I think you can expect to see PhotoPaint (or whatever it's called) from the Office suite to soon be bundled with Windows. MS Money may be a good candidate. MS Word will certainly come in at some point, perhaps with reduced functionality. In they end, Microsoft will have to either bundle nearly everthing, as it's open source competitors do now, or start porting it's applications to alternative platforms in order to compete in it's competitors' space.

    That, my friends, is capitalism in action. It doesn't necessarily mean death to Microsoft, but it does mean more diversity in the market, and that is a good thing.

  • by b0r0din (304712) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:37AM (#8598909)
    Harm to the consumer...Well, let's see, in the last month or so about 20 new viruses or worms have been released focusing on vulnerabilities in Windows, in addition several known security problems exist in IE which propogate the problem of viruses, and as Windows/IE is packaged together and has more than 90% of the market share, the viruses are much more easily spread and cost companies billions of dollars each time.

    Yeah, no harm to the consumer there.
  • Re:Careful.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:41AM (#8598946)
    Umm, Britain and France are nuclear powers....

    I imagine, due to sheer size of her armed forces that America would be able to raze Europe to the ground in any significant conventional war, but any such war would almost certainly go nuclear after a certain stage which would end that very quickly.

    Aside from that, don't underestimate the ability of European nations to protect themselves - I don't think America could launch a signficant surprise attack on Europe - giving Europe time to respond and arm itself. This isn't some nation that's been under sanctions for 10 years - Europe has some pretty advanced weaponary. Of course, there would be a natural disadvantage thanks to certain technologies being heavily concentrated in American hands (such as GPS), but this would only be a hindrance versus a home turf advantage.

    I think that even Bush would have problems pushing such a war anyway...
  • Look at adjectives number 7 and 8 and adverb 1. [reference.com]

    the main problem is there abuse of being a monopoly not the actual monopoly it self.

    Ok, I'm just ranting now. Cheers

    There's nothing like a good old rant it helps keep the blood pressure down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:48AM (#8599015)
    Jealous of what? People like you? An education system that apparently failed to teach you basic punctuation? Jealous that our economy is in wildly better shape than the U.S for the past four years? Jealous of the fact that you practice a form of Democracy which allows the guy who lost, to win? Jealous of a law system which allows draconian and downright wrong laws to be enacted without a whisper from the population, even though those laws fly directly in the face of the beloved Constitution people such as yourself like to tell us so much about? Jealous of the fact that you have a leader who violates and twists international law when it suits him, because the bad man did a bad thing and made him angry?

    None of that, in fact, makes Europe jealous of you or the United States. It makes us pity you.

  • So we can come to the car analogy again, for example, if someone starts putting proprietary air filters or even a proprietary stereo (where you can't figure out the connections, for example - you'd have to rip out all the old speakers and everything and completely replace it to put a new one in). Those things would really suck, and make me not want to buy that car, but would it really be "unfair?" Should the government step in and say that car manufacturer can no longer install stock stereo systems?


    If you couldn't get your car without the Stereo, the multiple cd changer. Sure, it's free, wink wink, nudge, nudge.

    Do you remember that Netscape wanted and needed to change for their browser? And Bill Gates said in a public forum that MS still had OS revenue and they could "compete" in the "free" browser market while he didn't see how Netscape could.

    After MS included the browser for free, loaded on the machine, and excluded any other browsers, Netscape was forced to enter the "Free" browser market and simply make money on server products. (They're not free, Netscape had to try to leverage it's server market products market-share to support the "free" browser.) I can't find quotes, as they're old but some of the statements by Gates are pretty damning.

    It's been said many times before, but once you reach monopoly status, you can't use the same tactics to force people out of your markets. The power and ability to do so, the theory goes is too great and the results always ultimately hurt consumers.

    So, no, I don't think this is unjustified. Sure, it's way late and probably will only serve to increase the rising tide against MS, rather than early on where it could have turned the tide. That's too bad, but we shouldn't give up on prosecuting the murderer simply because it was 20 years ago and he's in jail on bank fraud. (Not to mention, we don't know where things will go tomorrow and having a judgement in the bank will go a long ways to prevent abuse as much as possible as MS either reforms or dies.)

    Anyway...

    Cheers,
    Greg
  • by sadomikeyism (677964) <mlorrey@noSpAm.yahoo.com> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:53AM (#8599088) Homepage Journal
    Quite so. Half the slashdotters will have nothing to talk about, and with have to find some other bad guy to spin conspiracy theories about.

    Seriously, though. As much as MS offends me, I am more offended by the idea that governments can confiscate somebodys property rights so easily.

    People's Republik of Europe, here we come.

    Prepare to wait in line 24 hours, comrade, for a chance to browse the empty shelves of the People's Software Commissary. Prepare to wait 10 months for the government to agree to allow you the privilege to use a compiler, after you agree to offer your output for free to your fellow comrades.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:58AM (#8599146)

    I would hardly call .NET retarded. Maybe you were referring only to VB.NET and not .NET in general, but given your Java reference, I'm assuming you're talking about .NET in general. MS commits many crimes and uses a lot of underhanded tactics. They also screw up their software in a lot of ways. Even with all that though, MS does do some things right. .NET is a good idea and is even being emulated by open source developers now. Knock them where they deserve it, but give them credit when they do something well. .NET is something that is done well.

  • by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:06AM (#8599255) Homepage Journal

    Suppose Microsoft is forced to provide the option of a version of Windows XP without the media player? Now that it's pretty well established a foothold in the marketplace, how many customers and OEMs are really going to exercise such an option? Plus, they already have XP Embedded waiting that could be easily adapted to this purpose.

    Net effect on Microsoft's media strategy: minor speedbump.

    Fines: I've heard talk of 2e8 Euros. Even with the depreciation of the dollar, MS has 6e10 dollars in cash. That's about, oh, 0.3 per cent. Like, hurt me.

    Effect on Microsoft's cash flow: minor speedbump.

    This may appear stringent compared with the US Justice Department's settlement, but it's still no big deal for Microsoft.

    As usual, the wheels of justice have arrived too little, too late.

  • by Vapula (14703) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:07AM (#8599268)
    Well, you are missing one significant point :

    there are many car producers (Honda, Ford, Mercedes, Toyota, BMW, Saab, Fiat, Peugeot, Renauld and many more) which are sharing that market...

    But Microsoft is NOT sharing the computer market with anyone... Microsoft do use bad practices to grab more and more share market and alternative (MacOS, Linux, ...) are a very little part of the market.

    On one side, we have a competitive market, on the other side, we have a quasi-monopolistic market...

    That allowed Microsoft to put a "Microsoft tax" on computer (which is slowly being removed as more and more PC makers are selling PC without Windows), to push many other poduct while making their competitor's fail (as if Honda was also selling park-doors and was using his position in selling cars to push people to only uses his doors ), ...

    Anti-monopoly laws are to prevent such misuse of a dominant position in one market...
  • Re:Careful.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 10Ghz (453478) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:08AM (#8599284)
    But if it werent for US materials it would have been insurmountable losses.


    While US supplies did help (of course they did) they were not be all end all in the war. For example, most of the tanks that were shipped to USSR were old and crappier than the ones Russians used. Native Russian production of war-material far outstripped the amount of goods that was shipped to them by the Allied. When it comes to tanks, Russia received about 12.000 of them, most being old and/or phased out by the western powers. In comparison, production of T-34-tank alone (A tank that was far superior to anything that was shipped to USSR by USA) numbered in the tens of thousands!

    In the end, the war was decided by Russian soldiers who fought the Germans.
  • by WNight (23683) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:10AM (#8599304) Homepage
    The trial is actually about what Microsoft did, not what they are doing. There are various cases of them outright lying about competitors products and coding their own product (great to control the OS) to break the competition's products. They did use unfair influence to tie their prices not to the number of units bought, but the the number of competitor's units bought.

    Currently they've only written about trying to embrace and extend certain necessary protocols to kill Linux, they've had close dealing with SCO, etc.

    While at any one time there may not be enough to say MS should be shut down for, the company has had a history of outright criminal actions.

    This isn't an MS thing, this is an accountability thing. If you harm your competitors though criminal actions you NEED to be punished. Otherwise we're simply saying to everyone that if you want to succeed you need to break the law, and that you won't be punished for doing so. Not if you break really big laws at any rate. Rob a 7-11 and go to jail for life. Steal billions and we'll let you keep your ill-gotten gains.

    I couldn't care less if MS made a complete reversal and was now sponsoring needy children in Africa, they need to be smacked around for their past transgresions that put them where they are today. The fact they haven't stopped just makes it worse.
  • by nagora (177841) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:12AM (#8599323)
    It's very simple: because MS have a monopoly on computer OS's they can use that to capture dependant markets, ie markets for programs that run under that OS, by simply filling a niche by default bundling of their product, no matter how poor (Media Player being a prime example of third-rate MS software that for no good reason has become a major force in the marketplace). This is bad for the customer because it prevents new products from competing on either quality or price grounds; if they're not bundled and MS's program is then the game's over.

    It's not really that MS have a duty to bundle other people's software, it's more that in a capitalist system they have a duty, or a requirement, to compete on a capitalist basis: in other words in a manner which produces the best deal for consumers by open competition - the so-called "American Way". The governmental view is that it's fair enough (although sadly not true) that they obtained their existing monopoly by being the best OS available but it's not okay for them to use that monopoly to prevent further competitive battles taking place. MS do not like the capitalist model (in fact, the reality is that they have never competed in the open market and won, having ridden to their current position on the back of IBM) and would much prefer a Stalinist system where the state mandates that all the people use the one approved system, enforced by DRM and controlled by one, unelected, man who is replaced only on his death. Basically, Microsoft is about as American in philosophy as as Fidel Castro.

    Honda do not have a monopoly on car sales and so governments generally are not concerned about their arrangements for cd-players etc. If you don't like it then there's plenty of other car companies to choose from. Plus, of course, Honda are not as well known for bribing, lying and stealing and generally treating the law of their home country as an amusing joke as Microsoft is.

    Finally, MS is a US company but they want to play hardball in the EU so that's the juristiction issue. MS don't have to sell their products in the EU, and I for one would be very happy if they didn't. Good riddance to bad rubbish, as we say.

    TWW

  • by gfxguy (98788) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:12AM (#8599324)
    Hi, thanks for the response. I realize there's nothing wrong with being a monopoly until you start abusing that position.

    I'm still wondering what "fair" means as applied to Microsoft, as in "Microsoft is not playing fair". How are they not playing fair? Is bundling a media play with windows somehow unfair to the consumer?

    I can see how you can say it's unfair to the competition, but again I ask if that's not ALWAYS the case? For example, most Hondas come with a rebranded Honda stereo. These days, you don't even have a choice - the car comes with a stereo. Find me one that doesn't. So is that "unfair" to JVC or Sony or other manufacturers? Seems to me the aftermarket stereo market is quite brisk.

    And so the question is if you really think it is unfair, how do you make it fair?

    If you require it to be a download, %99 of the people are going to download WMP. The only people who will download quicktime, for example, would have done it anyway.

    If you require choice in installation (i.e. the Windows installation requires you to select none or more of WMP, QT, and Real) then what about OTHER mediaplayers? Do you have to be a big business in order to be included (mplayer, vlc, etc.)? Soon you will need several extra discs just to hold all the choices for browsers, word processers (hey! bundling word-pad is unfair!), mediaplayers, text editors... where does the line get drawn so that it's "fair" for all companies?

    As far as the definition goes, I still see it being arguable that MS is not (in this case) being "unfair." If there was a contract about what consumers should get, and they weren't getting it, then they'd be unfair with respect to definition 7. Otherwise it's subjective (what's a fair profit for MS?).

    In definition 8, MS is certainly consisten with the logic of increasing value (if only percieved value, which is valuable in its own right) of their products. I don't know that it's ethicly wrong to include a mediaplayer with an OS. If it is for one, it should be for all. I won't complain that mandrake includes mediaplayers. And that brings us to rules. These rules are too subjective... what makes MS a monopoly (I'm not arguing they're not)? What rules do they have to follow? Are those rules different from what everyone else has to follow? Is that, in itself, "fair?"

    The reason I bring up the whole "fair" thing is because people throw that word around in a very selfish manner, which is totally against any meaning of "fair" there is. Most people here who whine that something isn't fair are complaining that they are not getting something they want, or some group they are associated with, or some company they support, are actually forced to play by the same rules everyone else plays by, and somehow that's not "fair".

    It's like a very large number of people who believe rich people are not paying their "fair" share of income tax in the U.S. I don't want to get into a political argument, it's the idea of what people actually think is "fair". What is fair? Not a textbook definition, but what do you think would be fair and equitable for everyone?

    Is there anything MS could do, while being a monopoly, that slashdotters would think is "fair?"
  • by lousyd (459028) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:18AM (#8599392)
    Competition is what capitalism is supposed to be about, right?

    No. Capitalism is about the freedom to compete, whether there exists competition or not. In this case, the EU is deciding that Microsoft is not free to compete, and that others are not allowed to choose what Microsoft has to offer. The EU is deciding for everyone.

    We all know that free software is going to win in the end, but it may be only because this or that government clubbed Microsoft enough times that they couldn't get back up. That would be sad, because open source and free software can win on pure technical superiority alone.

  • Bad moderating (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:20AM (#8599411)
    The comment above is not a troll, but the moderators are clearly biased. Yes the poster is angry (and he has cause to be), but the real troll is the parent post, which reeks of a typical "f-you" 'blind patriotism over common sense' attitude that endears his nation so much to the rest of the world (and again shows how insular, uninformed and out of touch many of them are).
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:20AM (#8599412)
    Assuming that your place of work has some form of MS product license, can you honestly say that you run legitimately licensed Microsoft products at home or do you borrow CDs from work? It's just that in my experience, Windows users get so used to the notion of never having to openly buy any Microsoft products that they seem to forget that they would probably feel a lot differently if they had to pay the full cost of those products.

    Remember, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player are not free products. They are given away freely by Microsoft provided that you run Windows by which MS assume that you have paid for the development of those products within the cost of purchasing your Windows OS or other MS products. After all, the developers of WMP and MS need to paid somehow... It just means that MS have to do a bit of work separating out the "application" from the "operating system", exactly the same as every other developer of Windows products has to do - in the EU, we call that "a level playing field".

    It seems that the best solution, with the EU ruling in place, is for MS to cut the price of each Windows OS and drop the "extra" products from Windows onto a separate purchased CD, similar to what the "Plus Pack" was but maybe call it the "Desktop Pack". After all, why would anyone running Windows in a server environment necessarily need to install IE or WMP on that machine? On the other hand, Joe Sixpack can go buy a CDs with IE and WMP on if he wants them or have the freedom of choice to go buy other products of even use Open Source ones. (Yes, dear Windows users, it may shock you to learn that there are a very large number of Open Source apps for Windows also!)

    Microsoft need to be made to realise that they cannot "have their cake and eat it". On one hand, they encourage developers to create applications for Windows and hand out developer tools but, on the other hand, they integrate IE and WMP so tightly into Windows that they make it difficult for developers to create integrated media and browser apps of their own.

    Finally, I'm pretty certain that most of the Windows users on here probably make and play MP3s and DivX/MPEG movies. So how do those same people feel about DRM being brought in with WMP to ultimately stop them doing that in the future. How are those people going to feel in 2-3 years time when they're forced to go with WMA & WMV formats that have to be licensed from MS first?

    Maybe the EU has been hard on MS but, let's face it, MS have been pretty damn hard on a lot of other companies over the years so I personally am not going to feel sorry for them.

    ...and if the EU decision means I stand a better chance of keeping my rights to "fair usage" then even better.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:34AM (#8599592)
    The EU is being as stupid about this as our own antitrust lawyers. Requiring MS to release a media reader free version makes about as much sense as shutting a barn door after the cows get loose. It's virtually identical to what our feds did when they fussed over packaging IE with Windows AFTER MS had destroyed Netscape's marketshare.

    The only difference is that MS is still trying to acquire Real and QuickTime's share. But forcing MS to offer a MS reader free version won't change the monopoly. Faced with a choice, Europeans will choose the "with" version of Windows over the "without" version, particularly if MS makes the latter more buggy.

    For all their whining and rhetoric, it's easy to suspect that MS is secretly delighted by what the EU plans to do--a bit like the children's story where a rabbit, caught by a fox, desperately pleads, "Don't throw me in that briar patch."

    In the end, there's no solution to the problems of a monopoly but the rise of genuine competition. Linux and open source offer just that. The EU would do better to fine MS $2 billion or so and invest that money in developing open source software.

  • by koreth (409849) * on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:39AM (#8599660)
    Maybe if you were a little less dogmatic and a little more pragmatic about which technologies you're willing to learn, you wouldn't still be searching the jobs in your area. I'd love to write multiplayer game server code all day like I did in a previous job, but people are willing to pay me to do J2EE web applications, so J2EE code is what I'm doing nowadays. During the day, anyway.

    I've written code for other people on enough systems over the years (everything from the Atari 400 to a Cray Y-MP) that I've come to realize it just doesn't matter in the end. Trying my best to find elegant, clean ways to solve the problem at hand no matter what the language or support technology is -- that's where the challenge and fun lies. If the technology base is primitive, the feeling of accomplishment is that much more complete. Whether I'm typing my code into an xterm or a Visual Studio window is way down the relevance list.

    Adaptability is a good thing.

  • by goatan (673464) <ian.hearn@rpa.gsi.gov.uk> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:44AM (#8599719) Journal
    The EC is expected to fine Microsoft between 100 million (67 million) and 1 billion for having broken the European Union's antitrust laws. To waive the ruling, Monti asked Microsoft to commit not to distort competition by bundling peripheral software programs to Windows in the future. Microsoft, it would appear, declined. [techworld.com]

    Being find is a lot diffrent to being made to open source your product. The only time windows being opened sourced has been discussed has been by journalists and here on slashdot as a possibility that some of it might be. Even the fine is not certain for all we know they could be slapped on the wrists and told not to be so naughty, wait for something to actually happen before commenting.

  • by royalblue_tom (557302) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:45AM (#8599744)
    If they are happy to accept all the protections of the copyright system, and the market provided and protected by, european law, then they can accept the obligations as well.

    It's a punishment for wrongdoing. How is taking away some of their rights regarding their software any different to say, a massive fine (the government is taking my property (money), or imprisonment)? This wouldn't be happening if Microsoft had not abused (or still plans to abuse - won't come to an agreement on future conduct) it's defacto monopoly position.
  • by jsebrech (525647) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:55AM (#8599872)
    Competition is what capitalism is supposed to be about, right?

    That depends on your definition of capitalism. The narrow definition of capitalism is that it is an economic system where capital is privately owned. The loose definition says the same, but extends it with the requirement of market freedom (the freedom to enter and compete in a market).

    I would like to add that a free market ensures profit will be as low as possible. In a free market system, if your business is too profitable, someone will come along and undersell you. Microsoft right now is too profitable to thrive in a free market. To ensure stockholder value they MUST kill any and all viable competition. The free market is their enemy.

    By the way, the notion of consumer harm is irrelevant. A monopoly, with a monopoly pricing model, is an inefficient way of investing capital (that is something that just about all schools of economic theory agree on), so the mere existance of a monopoly guarantees economic harm comes to society as a whole. That monopolies are tolerated is already quite the concession. That they're allowed to damage market freedom is just plain silly.
  • by Too Much Noise (755847) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:56AM (#8599891) Journal
    ok, let's give it a shot ;-)

    Open Source is nice, for example, but does that mean proprietary software is "unfair?"

    not open source - monopolies are unfair. There's nothing unfair about normal competition, but a monopoly has a lot of weight to throw around and that usually has the effect of sheer quantity squashing undiscriminately all competition, be it qualitatively superior or not. Think IE for instance. And no, it's not that 'monopolies aren't allowed to innovate' - it was bundling IE with the ubiquitous OS that achieved the effect, not merely producing it.

    For the car analogy to work, it should read there's one hugely dominant car brand and things like roads, carwashes and so on are slowly getting 'optimized' to work with tht car first. Otherwise you can just buy a new car, no harm done. You have to do a little research beforehand, but that's unavoidable. And you have some freedom of choice in the car market, at least.

    The problem with WMP for instance is that it only exists for Windows - then Windows being so widespread the move that's already happening is WMP-type formats are (about to become, anyway) just as widespread. Would you want wmv to be accepted as THE standard HDTV codec?. This in MS leveraging its Windows monopoly to dominate the media - a WMP monopoly underway and the two combined will have a tighter control on the consumer market. After all, one would want to be able to play all those wmv discs on the home computer and windows will be the only way to do it, if this happens. (disclaimer - I realise the codecs aren't tied to the player, but this is not the point - different players would come with different default codecs and they can compete on merit instead of on the default player. What if. And there's always the problem of new codecs - if MS does not provide support for ogg/ogm and sets WMP to fail to retrieve the codec everytime, will the average consumer even know where to look for them? a player monopoly cn turn into a codec monopoly quite easily.)

    So we can rag on all the losers that don't know a bit from a byte or what an OS even is, but if they are the majority and they want their "free" media player/browser/whatever installed when they buy the computer, is it "fair" to tell them they can't have that? Isn't this just making things difficult for the vast majority of the people involved?

    Again, you're missing the point here. no default Windows Media player != no default player! it means OEMs are free to install whatever player they want. Right now, it's quite hard (and expensive) for a oem to untie WMP from the OS - so why would they do it? MS is effectively forcing people to use their player. And no, installing a second/third additional player won't help here - WMP already has an unfair position here. Besides, doe to the competition being MS, few people would try to produce an alternative, player or codec. And that brings the other point in - opening the APIs. Would you consider making a Windows movie player when you know WMP will always work better because the OS has a special 'embrace' for it (read as 'API hooks')?

    So here's fair - or rather unfair. Your Mandrake subscription won't help them play WMP formats. And if MS locks the home media in their formats, that will drive Mandrake out of business sooner than bad management, since they in particular sell a desktop-oriented distro. Right now, you can play dvds with decss/dvdread and windows files with windows codecs. That's not a 'level field' already. What will happen when the next format war is won by MS?

    I guess my biggest problem with all this is that it is not going to make MS go away, or even lose marketshare.

    again, this is targeted at 'future market share', mostly (and here's the hope that it has at least partial success). I for one don't want MS imposing its Windows-only formats everywhere. OS now, media already happening, mobile phones next ... it's funny to see their 'drea
  • by Trolling4Dollars (627073) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:06PM (#8600020) Journal
    The error in this line of thinking is that corporations have been allowed the same rights as individuals. We'd be much better off if they had no rights and were beholden to the public (other than commercial success). An even bigger mistep is the whole commie vs. cappie argument. The article noted on /. last night about Lawrence Lessig had a very important statement that throws out the whole "open source = communism" argument. It's not about that at all. It's about the right of the individual to innovate vs. large corporations trying to control (read stop) that innovation.
  • If MS will do that (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Baki (72515) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:07PM (#8600027)
    It will only really awake a lot of people and organisations for the first time, and make them see how insane it is to make themselves totally dependant on an entity they have nothing to say about.

    Yes, it will buy MSFT 1 or 2 years, but in the meantime everyone will fevereshly work on MSFT escape plans.
  • by Alan Cox (27532) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:08PM (#8600039) Homepage
    Unfair in EU law generally includes things like

    Overcharging for a monopoly product to fund goods sold under cost price into another market in order to destroy the competition in that market and become a monopoly there

    Using your monopoly position to leverage other advantages (eg the if you ship windows you license us all your patents' type stuff)

    The EU is generally happy for monopolies to exist providing they are not abusing their position too much and we have monopoly suppliers in various business areas that have existing as monopolies for a long time without being convicted in US courts, fined in EU courts, raided in Japan and so on.

  • This is a lie (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baki (72515) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:10PM (#8600067)
    The EU antitrust until now mainly hit european companies. You are just using blind "patriotism" to support a US company, which by the way is mainly damaging other US companies. Incredible and very disturbing that your port got modded to 5/insightful.
  • Re:Good job EU! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by then, it was nigh (455221) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:11PM (#8600077) Homepage

    Tin-foil hat alert!

    Well, yours is clearly on tight. Apparently you followed the 2000 election by way of Fox "News". I humbly submit a handy summary [somewhere.com] of what actually happened.

    The law of the land was followed to the "T".

    Yes, until the US Supreme Court stepped in.

    The Democrats tried to force an unconstitutional recount to ensure that Gore would win the election.

    Read: The Florida Supreme Court tried to enforce existing Florida election law, as it had been interpreted via precedent extending back more than a century; the US Supreme Court then unconstitutionally intervened, to ensure that Bush "won" the election.

    In fact, there were two legal, certified recounts in Florida, and Bush won them both.

    Those are the ones the supposedly "liberal" mainstream media emphasized. There was also a full statewide recount (which, for reference, is what the Florida Supreme Court had ordered, and what would have happened if the Scalia Five had not intervened); Bush lost that one.

    The Democrats employed judicial activism at its worst to change the standards of for recounting ballots after the election [...]

    The Florida Supreme court did not change the rules of the election; the US Supreme Court even acknowledged as much. They then employed judicial activism at its worst by ruling that the FSC should have changed the election rules, to alleviate the supposed "equal protection" problems you dutifully parrot below --- except, of course, that if the FSC had done that, the USSC would have ruled against them because they had done so. Neat scam, huh?

    [...] in such a way that certain citizens votes would weigh more heavily than others.

    Yes; specifically, such that votes whose intent was clear would weigh more heavily than votes whose intent was not clear. That's why they call it the "clear intent of the voter" standard, after all.

    The US Supreme Court ruled that this recount violated the equal protection rights of the citizens whose votes would not be recounted under the new, heavily-biased standards.

    I think my above cite skewers that better than I could:

    The problem was neither the butterfly ballot nor the 170,000 or 3% of Democratic-leaning voters (largely African-Americans) disenfranchised. The problem is that somewhat less than 0.01% of the ballots (less than 600 votes) may have been determined under ever-so-slightly different standards by judges and county officials recording votes under strict public scrutiny, as Americans have done for more than 200 years. The single judge overseeing the entire process might miss a vote or two.

    They did not even "stop" the recount.

    `Fraid they did. They imposed a deadline of December 12 for the recount, whereas under normal federal election law Florida would have had until January 6 to complete the recount. Note that the ruling in which they imposed this artificial deadline was issued at 10pm on December 12, giving Florida less than two hours to complete any recount before a deadline they wouldn't have had but for the USSC.

    Exactly how is this an "appointment"?

    I don't expect you to acknowledge any of these inconvenient facts, of course; in fact, I suspect that by the second paragraph or so, you already had your eyes closed and your fingers in your ears and were loudly chanting, "La la la, George Bush was legitimately elected President, la la la, I can't heeeear you..."

  • by scrytch (9198) <chuck@myrealbox.com> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:28PM (#8600313)
    I'm glad to see that at least Europe still has some functioning antitrust laws, unlike the US where antitrust laws were effectively gutted by the judiciary.

    It's always easy to stand on the side of the law when it's a foreign company. Perhaps a better test would be to see what standards the EU will apply to European companies. How about that Deutsche Telekom or Vivendi, hm?

  • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:31PM (#8600359) Homepage Journal
    No. They shouldn't be provided with a media player forced on them my MS. The problem is not that MS is providing a media player, but that they are providing a mediaplayer tied into their OS without giving people, or OEM's and distributors, the option of getting Windows without it, or with alternative players.

    By doing that they are making it significantly harder for the competition to stay viable, thereby removing consumer choice.

  • Re:Good job EU! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by then, it was nigh (455221) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:37PM (#8600442) Homepage

    Anyone who actually took time to *read* about the election troubles in Florida would know the facts.

    Yes, they would; clearly you didn't, because you don't. The reference [somewhere.com] I cited for the previous poster also neatly demolishes your "facts":

    1) Gore is the one that took the battle to the courts after Florida was ready to declare Bush the winner.

    Nope. Bush's lawyers went to court to stop the recounts before Gore filed a single lawsuit, on the (justified) fear that Bush's miniscule apparent lead would evaporate and reverse if the recounts were completed.

    2) The Gore campaign wanted votes counted differently for areas where they felt they didn't get the vote they expected.

    The Gore campaign, and the Florida Supreme Court, wanted votes counted according to existing Florida election law, including the well-established "clear intent of the voter" standard.

    The Supremes ruled simply that if there was to be a recount, ALL votes in the entire state would have to be recounted using the same standards (i.e. was a hanging "chad" a vote).

    The Supremes ruled that the Florida Supreme Court should have somehow changed Florida's election laws to correct this supposed "equal protection" problem --- except that the FSC doesn't have the authority to do that, and if they had tried to, the USSC would have ruled against them for doing so.

    3) Gore won the popular vote but not the electoral votes.

    No, Gore won the electoral vote, too, because he won Florida. You can be forgiven for not knowing about this, because the supposedly "liberal" mainstream media quietly memory-holed the massive election fraud involved.

    Think, people. Don't just believe tin-hat stories because they fall in line with your hatred of the president.

    Funny, that's what we kept saying to Republicans during the Clinton years, but they wouldn't listen. Project much?

  • by sepluv (641107) <blakesley AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:39PM (#8600462)
    It's about the right of the individual to innovate vs. large corporations trying to control (read stop) that innovation.

    Quite right, and I'd go even further by saying that the only thing that stops the capitalist system being the perfect system it should be (were everyone fairly competes and prices are lowered to their minimum levels &c) is the existence of companies. They go against the capitilist ideal.

    (Aside: I'm not quite clear on the details of a communists system but a perfect capitilist system (were their is an infinite number of competitors <voice style="peter jones">which is of course impossible</voice>) is probably the same as a communist system -- but without the problem of having to have someone in charge (who everyone has to trust) to co-ordinate it).

    The capitalist system is quite a good idea -- maybe the least worst one -- however it only works if people spend their own money to buy/make things then sell them on themselves. If people can make lots of abstract entities (companies) which are difficult to sue, are not accountable to anyone and which can be bankcrupted without anyone having to pay (except of course all the staff, investors and people they owe money to), the whole system gets messed up -- IMO it is companies not capitalism that causes the racing scenario put foward by RMS in the GNU project manifesto thingy, and if their werrent companies their problem would be little need for regulation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:40PM (#8600471)
    AFAIK, France never surrendered to Bush... And I guess you didn't hear what happened to Aznar.

    Ok, there is still Blair and Berlusconi the clown...
  • by o'reor (581921) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:45PM (#8600535) Journal
    I think that at present, Microsoft makes obscene margins on its flagship product, the operating system (I heard it was about 85% -- can't confirm, though). Even if MS cut their prices by half they would still make both a comfortable revenue and enough money to reinvest in research and development.
  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:57PM (#8600744) Homepage Journal
    Well, I think it is a different mindset. Over here..we think more of the individual, and individual accomplishment, that of 'the collective'. About the only time we ever get together and agree on anything strongly, is when out country takes a hit....it was actually amazing to see for a good while how close and unified this nation became after 9/11.

    So, I'd kind of say, that the govt. is a body that tends towards regulating and encompassing everything if left untended...and that tends to impede on the 'individuals' rights...

    I mean, it is becoming more of a collective over here...the fed. govt. is starting to reach further and further where is was not before. Remember, this country started as an almost 'loose' collection of independent states. The original founders were worried about a central govt. taking too much power...and wrote our constitution to try to prevent this...but, also to strike a balance for the needs of both entities...

    So, I'd say this type attitude is why we're distrustful of the govt. in a way. If it goes unchecked...it can start to infringe on your personal, individual freedoms to live your life they way you want....

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @01:01PM (#8600810)
    It's not the bundling that I see as the issue, it's the integration of those products to the exclusion of all else.

    The only way MS will relinquish control of WMP and IE integration into Windows is if they are forced to bundle the products separately - then MS either have to adopt more open media/file standards or open their proprietary standards out to third-party application developers to incorporate.

    Intervideo's WinDVD and Cyberlink's PowerDVD, for example, have to compete with an equal footing on the Windows desktop as DVD player applications?

    Why should Microsoft's applications have an advantage purely because they make the OS and can integrate their apps into into Windows so tightly you cannot remove them?

    I agree that apps get bundled with KDE and Gnome in Linux (even as a Linux user I consider both desktop environments to be "bloaty" albeit that they're well designed) but you can deinstall them if you go deep enough into the installation program (usually with "Select individual packages") and there's nothing to stop you putting a bare window manager on like Fluxbox and installing only the apps you want.

  • by johnnyb (4816) <jonathan@bartlettpublishing.com> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @01:12PM (#8600970) Homepage
    However, the system was not capitalistic to begin with, because the government was enforcing copyright, which is itself a monopoly. Therefore, since Microsoft was under the protection of the government for the copyright monopoly on Windows, they should also be under the governments watch for abuse of that monopoly.
  • Re:Good job EU! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by then, it was nigh (455221) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @01:16PM (#8601025) Homepage

    AGAIN, even more slowly this time:

    1) Bush won every single count and recount in Florida

    No, he didn't; Gore won the full statewide recount that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered. Again, you can be forgiven for not knowing this, since the supposedly "liberal" mainstream media tended to bury this important fact on page 37J.

    2) Gore wanted the standards change to include the undefinable "clear intent of the voter" votes

    Um, the standards already included the "clear intent of the voter" standard, as specified in Florida law, and as used in Florida without problem for more than a century.

    3) Gore then took the case to the Supreme Court , not Bush

    Um, notice the case title is BUSH v. Gore? Bush was the plaintiff; therefore, by definition, Bush took it to court first.

    And bonus points to you for continually pointing to your "fair" webpage.

    Read: "I cannot refute any of the facts presented on that site, so instead I'll resort to ad hominem and demonize the site as liberally biased."

    Gore lost. He kept dragging it through the court system in an attempt to steal the election. First to change the counting standards, then when they weren't manipulated to his liking, he took it to the Supreme Court.

    Yes, you keep repeating that over and over, like a mantra. Maybe if you say it often enough, it will come true.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @01:34PM (#8601245)
    ..its akin to the government telling an artist what his painting should be.

    No, its akin to the government telling an artist to keep painting but to stop bullying all other painters to use the same brands of paints, brushes and canvases that he uses.

  • by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @01:37PM (#8601279) Homepage Journal

    Capitalism is about the freedom to compete

    Freedom is a loaded word.

    Everyone benefits the most under capitalism when competitors can easily enter the market to provide alternatives.

    That is, when barriers to entry, whatever they may be, are minimized.

    If I have to purchase licenses, sign NDA's, reverse engineer an obfuscated binary code, convince customers to download my alternative application to what appears on their Windows desktop, or contend with newly emergent "standards" that I have no idea what they are going to be, then those represent barriers to entry for me as a potential competitor.

    That means inefficient markets and that means people are paying more for what they're getting and/or getting less for what they're paying.

  • by acebone (94535) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @01:53PM (#8601489) Homepage
    I'm with Blakesly - you have some very interesting thoughts there.

    In DK the (very capitalististic and in US terms 'republic') prime-minister said that he was appalled by the conduct of a couple of heavy-corps. According to him they were going wayyy to far in their tax-juggling, so while they technically were on the right side of the law they were ethically very dubious, and they should be above that.

    Of course it's a bit silly for him to say that - there is a law, and if it doesn't work you have to fix it.

    I'd REALLY like to ask him how he felt about the idea that the company concept IS intrinsicly unethical - and whether it was time to disband corps in DK :D

  • Re:Careful.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:21PM (#8601839)
    And we sold weapons to Osama Bin Laden.

    With a government like ours who needs enemies.
  • by Urkki (668283) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:39PM (#8602034)
    • Well in that case companies should not have any special legal status.

    So imagine a factory jointly owned by 10 people, and having 100 people working in it doing whatever that takes a 100 people do effectively. The factory pollutes a river, killing all the fish in it etc. Some of the owners didn't even know about it happening.

    Now who is responsible and expected to pay up? Is it the owners? Is it the workers who actually performed the actions polluting the river? And responsible for how much money? If somebody should go to jail, then who would that be? Just answering these questions gives the company a legal status, defining the responsibilites in such an event. There are a lot of different issues (another example, if a factory owner dies, what happens to the factory?) that need to be defined, and defining them gives them legal status. And if there's no clear definitions, that makes the system wide open for corruption.

    • Incidentally I just realised that the idea of companies being bad for capitalism (which I just thought of) is probably similar to my long held belief that giving special status to groups of politicians (i.e.: political parties) (for instance with the concept of governments) is what makes pseudo-representative (US/UK-style) democracy undemocratic.

    I think I kind of agree with you here. Making political parties, permanent political organizations, illegal might actually accomplish something. You'd be voting for an individual and his manifesto, then he'd be free to make whatever connections with other representatives during his term... In modern information society that might actually work in a productive way, voters easily finding out what his representative said before elections and what he actually did during his term, and then being able to decide if he'd still vote for him, etc.

    Too bad that the political parties have the power, and they'll never allow something like this...

    • I'm not sure what point you are trying to make about American Indians.

    The point was that a society that falls behind in innovation and technology gets destroyed by others. What would limit innovation more than preventing things that require a lot people, money and organization, ie a company (private in capitalism, state-owned in communism)?
  • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:57PM (#8602240)
    The problem is that MS has been acting like an axe murderer and killing off the competition by unfair means...

    A lot of people have been doing a lot of comparing of what antitrust means because the concept is kind of difficult for many people to grasp.

    You refer to Killing of Competition, which has some accuracy, but I prefer the comparison to what Marth Stewart was convicted of, Insider Trading.

    I prefer this comparison because most people instantly understand insider trading; a person has special knowledge others don't have and can't have and they use it as an unfair advantage.

    MS has used its "insider" position to do things that others can't to give it an unfair advantage. They've advertised where others can't (on the desktop for MSN) made their instalations easier than others can(Can't be easier than the media player being built-in) and they've steadfastly refused to let others share their advantages (licenses forbid others from preinstalling their software in the same way).

    In fact MS is worse than Martha because the insider knowledge that gave Martha an advantage was made public the very next day; MS has fought long hard battles to keep their advantages from ever being made public. Martha has a felony conviction and will likely face prison time for her crime even though it was only a one-day advantage, but MS argues that they should be able to keep their advantage forever with no repercussions.

    Martha is an individual and MS is a corporation so the remedies for this kind of broken law are, and should be different. But the intensity should be, the same. MS should get the equivilant of being behind bars for their crime and a Billion Euros doesn't even come close.

    TW
  • by hansreiser (6963) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:18PM (#8602543) Homepage
    now THAT would cause MS some pain way beyond the sub-billion euro level they are talking about for the fine itself.
  • by mehgul (654410) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:20PM (#8602559)
    Sorry boy, get your facts, read the analyses of the results in Spain: Aznar and the right were kicked in the ass rightfully for having outright lied TWICE in a year to the people that elected them happily in 2000. First time was about Iraq, second was calling all the press to swear they were sure it wasn't Al Qaeda but Basque independentists from ETA that organised the Madrid bombings.

    Expect the same to happen to the guy sitting 10, Downing Street in London, even though he's from the left. The issue here is that people don't trust liars to govern them, especially if it's just to please the US warmongers. And lying about bombings and wars is much more serious than lying about blowjobs.
  • by Lauwenmark (763428) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @05:45PM (#8604179)
    The fact is, and this is hard to deny, europe today is extremely dependent on the US for its security.

    Believe it or not, I'll attempt just that.

    Your point is interesting, because I think it gives a good insight of common geopolitical "easy ways".

    First, I'd like to underline that we see "Europe" and "EU" described as a block, as homogenous geopolitically as the US. This is a fundamental error: the EU is basically a group of very divergent political entities. Of course, some european countries share "common roots" (being economically, strategically or politically). But even considering that, it is impossible to take the Europe - or even its reduced EU view - as a whole. Opposed opinions about terrorism in the EU alone is a good example of such strong local nuances. This is something which is unfortunately too often put aside, leading to oversimplification of the problems.

    Now, keeping my previous point in mind, about the question of "defense".

    It is indeed true that the current average line of politics in Europe goes more towards pacifist solutions. There are good historical reasons for that: Europe was the focal point of the two World Wars; Europe initiated colonial wars about 300 years ago; Europe ruled the world from the end of the XVth Century to the middle of the XXth. Past events showed that although war gave by itself impressive short and middle-term results, it wasn't very efficient to establish long-term objectives. All major conflicts of the XXth century confirmed this trend, being lead by Europe or other countries. Western European countries have a long colonialist past behind them, and that definitely plays a role on the way they perceive the current situation: military domination proved rather inefficient compared to economical control. This emphasis on the economical side rather than on the military side is definitely obvious in today's European diplomacy.

    I'm rather curious to see what kind of massive military attacks Europe could expect from the outside. I see only a couple of options there:
    - From the Middle-East or from the Northern Africa ? But those are economically dependent from Europe. They're also made of a puzzle of contradictory interests - there is no unity to expect on short or middle-term timeframe. Besides that, their military power is questionable (Israel being an exception);
    - From Central Asia ? Caucasian republics are busy with their own anarchy. The two most important military forces there are Pakistan and India - but they are watching at each other, not at Europe, which is perceived as a neutral supplier, just like the USA;
    - From the Far East ? But what would be the interest of China to attack and damage what is one of their most important trading partners ?
    - From "the South" ? None of the countries of Central/Southern Africa or Southern America can oppose a realistic military answer to the EU;

    This leaves only one possibility: Europe being endangered by Europe itself. There are very few possibilities there: most of the former "Eastern Block" is in the process of being integrated into the EU. The former Jugoslavia never attempted anything outside its borders - and doesn't present a threat to the rest of the continent. So where is that military threat above the head of Europe ? The question needs to be asked, and so far received no clear answer. Just as a side note, although the military power of Europe is inferior to the US one, it is very far from outdated or inexistent; and Europe has the financial capability to sustain large-scale, long-duration operations, something the USA cannot really afford anymore.

    About the WWI, WWII and Yugoslavia: It is a common thought that "USA saved Europe". Some things to remember, though:
    - The intervention of the USA during WWI was marginal and never decisive for the course of the war. If you study your history manuals, you'll see that Germans capitulated mostly because political and economical troubles starting to suffoca
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @05:48PM (#8604196)
    buying software is a completely voluntary transaction.

    Not when it comes to operating systems it isn't! What about if I want to go to a PC vendor and buy an empty PC because I want to run Linux or FreeBSD on it. How many vendors will sell me a blank PC and refund me the cost of the pre-installed Windows XP?

    The answer is very few because of the way in which they have been "bullied" by Microsoft to sell pre-installed PCs. If they don't do that, MS comes down hard on them and charges them more per Windows XP license, thus cutting their profit margins which are already lean.

    I agree that Joe Average probably doesn't give a damn about Linux or other alternative OSes but Windows is being turned into a platform to generate more income for Microsoft from every user's pocket and he should be made aware of that and protected from it.

    The fact is that if you use recent MS software, be that Windows XP, WMP, MS Office, etc. you are, in effect, sanctioning and supporting closed proprietary data formats that you will have to end up paying to license from MS in the future - either because you are trapped in their planned "rental" model for their software or because media-related hardware you buy in the future will have an MS "tax" levied on it to use those licensed formats - and you will have no choice but to pay it.

    Microsoft do not like open formats because it means they cannot make any money from incorporating those into their software. TCP/IP was forced upon them and, for the moment, they have to support formats like MP3, MPEG, TXT, JPG, etc. because of the widespread use of those. But you can see for yourself how DRM is now being pushed and you can be sure that formats like WMV, WMA, DOC, XLS, etc. are intrinsic to that push.

    MS is not satisfied with just having its OS and apps on your desktop - it wants to control all of your data and charge you for the privelige.

    You may want to hand over your personal freedoms to MS but I'd prefer it if you didn't hand over mine also.

  • by nelsonal (549144) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @06:14PM (#8604410) Journal
    There was an excellent article about this very point in the Wall St. Journal a few weeks ago, the monday columnist (Col 1 sec B) is pretty with it. Anyway he questioned whether our monopoly is giving us enough to justify it's existance comparing MS with AT&T and IBM which both generated tons of useful inventions (PCs, UNIX, lasers, etc) and basic research (several nobel prizes each) while MS gives us buggy software.
  • by nfras (313241) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @06:40PM (#8604652)
    Stopping monopolies is not what this is about. This lawsuit is about stopping the abuse of monopoly position to gain leverage in other markets.
    The EU Commission regularly combats European companies, in fact Microsoft is the only non-European company to be sanctioned in 2004 (so far).
  • Re:No, he doesn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stor (146442) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:10PM (#8606630)
    You people just hate Bush especially more because he's a conservative Republican.

    Somehow I doubt that. A lot of us outside of the US wouldn't understand exactly what a US Conservative Republican is. An Australian Republican is different from an American Republican for instance.

    I can't speak for anyone else but I hate him because he's a dangerous, obstinate, self-serving moron who fraudulently took office and tries to run the world through fear, uncertaintly and doubt. He could be a fucking democrat for all I care.

    The good news is I think all us non-USians are calming down and not directing hatred towards Americans in general. We hate your leaders, we hate your corporation-focused infrastructure and seemingly blind US focus. We don't hate you.

    To all republican voters: we feel sorry for you. You must live in a pretty narrowly-focused universe.

    Cheers
    Stor

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