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Evidence Surfaces That MS Violated 2002 Judgement 204

Posted by kdawson
from the rutroe dept.
whoever57 writes "In the Comes Vs. Microsoft case, the plaintiffs believe they have found evidence that Microsoft has failed to fully disclose APIs to competitors. If true, this would mean that Microsoft has violated the 2002 judgement. This information has become available since the plaintiffs have obtained an order allowing them to disclose Microsoft's alleged misbehavior to the DOJ ('appropriate enforcement and compliance authorities')."
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Evidence Surfaces That MS Violated 2002 Judgement

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  • Hm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Macthorpe (960048) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:19AM (#17662128) Journal
    So by my reading, they've been given the right to talk to the DoJ about something they have found that may or may not prove that they have broken the law? It'll be interesting to see how this pans out, but I'll be waiting for the next story along in this chain before I start jumping to conclusions.

    I'm sure someone else here will do that for me.
    • Re:Hm. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hijacked Public (999535) * on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:38AM (#17662378)
      Enjoy your lonely stay in the land of reason and restraint.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "I'll be waiting for the next story along in this chain before I start jumping to conclusions."

      But it's such a good game!
  • A convicted monopolist can't change it's spots overnight, no matter what anyone might think.

    Think about it logically, a business that big needs time to change, we are not 10 people sitting in a room here...
    • by bernywork (57298) *
      Whoops...

      Preview, not submit.... That should have been:

      we are not talking about 10 people sitting in a room here...
    • by Calinous (985536) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:24AM (#17662182)
      A business this big doesn't need time to change - it needs desire to change. With all its (possible) evil implications, European Union seems to give Microsoft a desire to change.
    • by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:27AM (#17662240) Homepage Journal
      It doesn't surprise me, but not for the reasons you might think.

      There's a difference between APIs internal to the operating system, and APIs intended to provide a userland interface. If Microsoft userland products are using the internal APIs, then those APIs ought to be released. Otherwise, I don't see the probelem.

      I'm no Microsoft apologist, but I'd be interested to see which APIs are being discussed here before I go off on an anti-Microsoft rant.
      • by Calinous (985536) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:33AM (#17662316)
        There are some graphic capabilities (in gdi.exe) that exist only in newer operating systems. Not using them would force one to use (supposedly slower) hand-written functions (by example, filling application areas with a gradient is not available in Windows NT, but is in Windows XP).
              If those functions would really exist, but could be only interfaced to using an "internal" API, then Microsoft products could have faster "on screen" viewing compared to the competition.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by PsychicX (866028)
          Disregarding the fact that "gdi.exe" doesn't exist in the NT ancestral line, the new functions are accessible quite easily. Pick up the most recent Platform SDK, and look up the docs. There's a number of defines that activate functions only available in newer versions of Windows. They're not enabled by default so you don't inadvertently make your app not compatible with Win2k, for example.
      • I just figuring that the same thing [ercb.com] has happened again, only the victims know what to do next, and will accept this with jaws tightly closed; Lets face it, when China [com.com] sees Bill Gates before G.W., it is painfully obvious who is really in charge. The same result will be that once folks figure out what Microsoft is doing, the followers will adapt, and adopt. And those who follow the Open Source Solution will wonder what the fuss is all about.

        "If you are not the lead dog, the scenery does not change much." -
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        There's a difference between APIs internal to the operating system, and APIs intended to provide a userland interface. If Microsoft userland products are using the internal APIs, then those APIs ought to be released. Otherwise, I don't see the probelem.

        I think you're considering this a little too much from the programmer's point of view and not enough from the legal/economic point of view. The real distinction that needs to be determined is which APIs are being used by MS in conjunction with some offerin

    • by Gr8Apes (679165)
      I would disagree. It's really easy - his royal highness decrees "document all your APIs by EOM, or lose your bonuses and all your options" and you'd be amazed how quickly it'd be done.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rlp (11898)
      Yes! Bill Gates was so surprised that he dropped his monocle onto his white cat.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Ngarrang (1023425)
      I am shocked at such news. And here I thought Billy Gates was such a nice young man.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tolan-b (230077)
      "Convicted monopoly abuser". Monopolies aren't inherently illegal.
    • Irrelevant.

      Whether or not MS needs time to change doesn't change the illegality of their actions.

      The only "legal" allowance for extra time isn't a delay in enforcement actions, it's that the penalties imposed are not the corporate death penalty, or revocation of MS's corporate license/charter. Any extra "time" needed incurs additional fees/penalities, and that is Microsoft's sole remedy.
    • You guys love to say "convicted monopolist", don't you? Makes you feel all legal-schmegal I guess.

      "Oooh, they're a convicted monpolist this just cannot stand!".

      It's so very dramatic. Unfortunately, all it means is a whole lot of...nothing.

  • So... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by styryx (952942) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:27AM (#17662236)
    If the allegations are true, and it turns out that MS might somehow not be the shining beacon of Justice and Honour that we've come to regard it as (okay, I'll cut the sarcasm now), what is the worst that will happen to MS? And are they really concerned...ever?

    I'd rather we skip the monetary fines that are becoming meaningless and go for revocation of patents. Can you imagine if MS had it's patents revoked and switched to a free-for-all? That would be nice... Ah, to dream.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Calinous (985536)
      A punishment must fit the crime is applied to. While the punishment applied by US Justice system might seem unfit for the wrongs of Microsoft before the verdict, revocation of patents is a totally unfit punishment for not publishing an API.
            It is like taking you (assuming you are from USA) the right to vote for a parking ticket in Mexico
      • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by aaronl (43811) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:51AM (#17662506) Homepage
        No, that is really not the same at all. First off, the parking ticket would have occurred in a foreign country, and so you shouldn't be punished for it in the US. Second, the right to vote is guaranteed to all citizens by the US Constitution. A patent is temporary property; the right to vote is a basic right of all citizens.

        Revoking MS' patents would be more like issuing a very large fine, and forcing the company to pay it. Oh wait, that punishment might fit *exactly* to the crime! If we revoke any patents related to their violation, and begin to allow the free market to reassert itself, then MS may no longer fall afault of all the anti-trust laws that they are currently ignoring (and violating).
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by balsy2001 (941953)
          That is not necessarily true. Those convicted of a felony can't vote. So restricting voting rights is a punishment of sorts even in the US. This site has some more information by state for loss of voting rights (http://www.righttovote.org/index.asp).
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Calinous (985536)
          The right to vote can be revoked by a court (outside of any other punishment); it can be revoked automatically in some cases, as a bonus to a conviction; or it can be revoked for medical reasons.
                However, the right to vote and a parking ticket you get in a foreign country have as much in common as a patent and the API for an operating system (not much).
        • by will_die (586523)
          The US has agreements with many out countries where traffic tickets are exchanged. In the US the agreements are mainly at the state level so if you get a ticket in Germany and live in Colorado you may find that Colorado has added points to license. On the good side if you move to Germany they will accept your license of thoses states and not require you to take all the classes for getting a german license.
        • by mpe (36238)
          No, that is really not the same at all. First off, the parking ticket would have occurred in a foreign country, and so you shouldn't be punished for it in the US.

          US Citizens can be subject to US law, even if they are not actually in the US at the time of the incident. (Even if what they are doing is perfectly legal where they are at the time.)

          Second, the right to vote is guaranteed to all citizens by the US Constitution. A patent is temporary property; the right to vote is a basic right of all citizens.
          • by aaronl (43811)
            As far as parking tickets go, that is not within Federal jurisdiction. Some states may have made reciprocal agreements with foreign countries regarding tickets, though. I am aware that as a US citizen, the US expects me to follow Federal law no matter where I am. I don't believe that extends to State law, however.

            A prisoner loses their right to vote, as does someone that is considered mentally deficient. It is uncommon that someone is sentenced in such a way that they are permanently barred from voting.
      • by Danse (1026)
        While the punishment applied by US Justice system might seem unfit for the wrongs of Microsoft before the verdict, revocation of patents is a totally unfit punishment for not publishing an API.

        How would it be any more harsh than a 3-strikes law? Microsoft has a lot more strikes than that, shouldn't the punishment be more severe?
        • by Calinous (985536)
          Good thing I am not a judge, and must not decide what punishment is fit for what crime.
          • by Danse (1026)

            Good thing I am not a judge, and must not decide what punishment is fit for what crime.

            You do see where I'm going with this though, right? We already have plenty of precedent for throwing the book at repeat offenders. Why should companies like Microsoft get a pass when they repeatedly break the law? Slaps on the wrist obviously aren't going to have any effect on a multi-billion dollar company. It only makes sense to make the punishment severe enough to act as a strong deterrent.

            • by Calinous (985536)
              The European Union idea - to fine up to the total profits - could be a solution to this. While I don't know how much a profit is Microsoft making in EU, the fine was much lower than that (a tenth? a third?).
                    However, there were companies (based in Europe) which were fined to that extent
      • by anothy (83176)
        while i think your example is crummy, you're right that a sentence must fit the crime. of course, the more Microsoft demonstrates the propensity for their applications group to illegally leverage the monopoly of their OS group, the more the original "break 'em up" sentence looks like a reasonable response.

        (and i thought it was serious overkill at the time)
      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        On the contrary. It is more like taking away your driving license for getting too many parking tickets. In your example you are losing an unrelated right for what you have done. In my example you are punished with revocation of your driving privileges for what you have done while driving (parking is part of driving.) In the real world, taking away MS' patents would be revoking their patent privileges for what they have done with their patents. If you can not tell the difference then you are not qualified to
    • by Calinous (985536)
      This patent revocation business might put the spotlight on whether patents (and their current life) are so good.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by suv4x4 (956391)
      what is the worst that will happen to MS? And are they really concerned...ever?

      No, they're not concerned at all. They are not human beings running a software business in a very hostile environment (geeks /early adopters/ hate them, antitrust lawsuits flying from everywhere, huge burden of backwards compatibility to a decade of poorly conceived obsolete software, competition implementing features you can't, since you're not "trusted", .. and so on and so on).

      They in fact are evil alien creatures from the und
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by 0232793 (907781)
        Actually, the alien species is called Borg [awpi.com]
      • by Danse (1026)

        No, they're not concerned at all. They are not human beings running a software business in a very hostile environment (geeks /early adopters/ hate them, antitrust lawsuits flying from everywhere, huge burden of backwards compatibility to a decade of poorly conceived obsolete software, competition implementing features you can't, since you're not "trusted", .. and so on and so on).

        Oh yes, poor Microsoft. They've only pummeled OEMs, competing software vendors, and consumers into submission with their illegal

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gutnor (872759)
      Monetary fine proposed by EU were nothing meaningless: 2 Millions EUR per Day just for a start for 1 violation.

      Anyway, revocation of patent would further discredit the patent system in the US. Taking a patent is supposed to be a service you gives to the state: you disclose your invention and in exchange you receive a patent and some rights attached to this patent.
      Now just imagine the shilling effect on US industry if you could have your patent revoked arbitrarily as a punishment in an *unrelated* crime ...

      A
    • What might be more appropriate is barring Microsoft from participating in government contracts (either as a consultant/contractor or an operating system) until they comply. I know if my employer screws up that is what would happen to them.
      • Yes, that would be the best course of action - however, the essence of a monopoly is that you have little other choices.
              Would this be possible? Yes, the Munich city is moving to something else than Windows (details not so important), and is converting from a couple of years, and the complete conversion will take another couple of years maybe
        • Other choices do exist though, even if not as dominant as Microsoft. A typical desktop setup (basic office applications, browser, etc...) can be replaced with a less popular alternative. The difficult task will be desktops and servers where applications only exist on the MS platform (which as you indicated can take a couple years). The fallout from Microsoft being banned from government contracts would be that other software vendors would start porting their applications to non-Microsoft operating system
    • by rbanffy (584143)
      They should be forced to call each misdocumented API a billion times on program start-up for every program they publish.

      mwahahaha
    • by mpe (36238)
      I'd rather we skip the monetary fines that are becoming meaningless

      There isn't really much point in fining an abusive monopoly. The actual would need to weaken that monopoly. At best fines do nothing, at worst they can make things worst.
      • Huh?

        Don't ever understimate a fine. A fine is like brute force; if a fine (brute force) isn't working, your clearly not using enough of it!

        At a certain level, even Microsoft will pay attention to a fine. Fine them $10-20 billion, and although it won't break their piggy bank, it will make a substantial difference.

        Fine them $10-20 billion, and dump it into government research on open source operating system development through our national labs? That might even work.
  • Uh-oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by TomatoMan (93630) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:29AM (#17662256) Homepage Journal
    If this is true, we shall be very angry!

    And we shall write a letter, TELLING you how angry we are!
  • by danaris (525051) <danaris @ m a c.com> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:42AM (#17662400) Homepage

    In two more years, evidence of this might actually get somewhere with the DoJ. However, please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it still entirely controlled by the exact same administration that let Microsoft off in the first place?

    Now, if Congress could somehow manage to get involved, that might make some difference...

    Dan Aris

  • by ghbyrkit (879348) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:51AM (#17662502)
    Based on a reading of the email offered as 'evidence' of this transgression, it occurred in 1992, 10 years before the settlement! So this is old evidence of a 'transgression' that allegedly occurred before the settlement. It is NOT evidence of a transgression that occurred AFTER the settlement. So it may not be 'new news' by any measure. Nothing to see, just a wookie, keep moving!
    • Based on a reading of the email offered as 'evidence' of this transgression, it occurred in 1992, 10 years before the settlement! So this is old evidence of a 'transgression' that allegedly occurred before the settlement. It is NOT evidence of a transgression that occurred AFTER the settlement.

      Amazing, you got access to the evidence when nobody else did, I am impressed.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      Since you seem to have access to materials none of the rest of us have seen, could you please provide us a link to the content so that we can examine the evidence?
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:58AM (#17662570) Journal
    Microsoft's user base is very very large and their technical knowledge varies significantly. Most of them dont know where the OS leaves off and where the applications kick in. They dont know the difference between the browser and MS Office. They are willing to pay whatever MS demands. Under these circumstances MS can get away with anything.

    Free markets and specilizations work, when large systems are broken into simpler components, the performance metrics and interface details are specified by a neutral standard that do not play favourites. Does the consumer really know the vicosity vs temperature profile of 10W-40 and 5W-40? They dont know, they dont care. The IC engine manufacturers and the lubricant oil manufacturer know it. All the rest only care about the spec name. Free market takes care of the rest and provides us with the cheapest engine oil taking advantage of all economies of scale etc.

    If GM could make its cars accept only GM engine oil and keeps the spec secret and the competition out, it will do it. But it is the consumers who would refuse to buy such cars and force GM to disclose the lubricant requirements for its IC engines. If consumers are willing to buy such "closed" cars from GM, could the courts or the govt do anything to change it? The can try. But they will never be able to reach the same level of efficiency the free market does.

    So dont just blame MS, blame the consumers too. All the tech columnists who should be educating the public about these things are talking fluff about the latest and greatest gadgets and widgets in trade shows. Blame them too. Slashdotters who know these things better talk to the other consumers as though they are complete idiots, creating a backlash against nerds/geeks etc. People buy MS blindly because they are not fully informed. Not because they are idiots willing to fork over their money to a large corporation without asking questions. Only educated consumers can break the monopoly. It is our duty to educate them without insulting them.

    • by multipartmixed (163409) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @09:03AM (#17662646) Homepage
      At least in the US, GM could not require GM oil, coolant, or service... not because of consumer demands, but because of the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act of 1976.

      I'm amazed how many American vehicle owners have never heard of this puppy, y'all should read it sometime. And the next time your new car salesman says anything about the warranty, you'll know where you can tell him to stick his head.
      • Thanks for the nugget of information. Anyway, in the 1950s climate of what-is-good-for-GM-is-good-for-America could the congress have passed a law similar to Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act? Monopoly abuse has to become an issue enough voters cared about, only then the congress will follow. For all that talk about politicians claiming to be "leaders" they are in effect followers. The good ones figure out which way the crowd is heading and get in front of them and "lead" them to wherever they were already going.
      • by szembek (948327)
        It's 'Magnuson' just for anyone's reference who wants to Google this.
  • Title is wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by NineNine (235196) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @09:10AM (#17662738)
    Actually, if any Slashdot "Editors" read the actual document, you'd see that the document is actually favorable, and says that MS is making good headway with documenting and hand-holding their competitors. The document says that MS has somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 people working to get this documentation done, and that there have been no substantive complaints about MS's compliance.

    Read The Fucking Article, Slashdot editors.
    • by Churla (936633)
      Look here sir...

      If people read articles before posting headlines and summaries which could be considered volatile and flame inducing where would we be as a proper MS hating, Apple and Llinux loving society?

      Please.. take your petty reason and logic and peddle them somewhere else, we have no need for those services here.
    • Bzzzt!

      Wrong!

      You're reading the wrong document.

      The point is that the December Report was found to potentially have missed substantive complaints. Comes v Microsoft, in January, opened the door to those complaints being analyzed by the Plaintiffs. We won't know what they are until the plaintiffs have officially filed, if they choose to do so, but the Judge in Comes v Microsoft believed they were substantial enough to merit consideration.
  • Given that if you buy a product, you don't even get to see all the API hooks you can use with the product. Why would they give it to their competitors when they won't even give all the API stuff to customers that paid for it?
  • Four words: revocation of corporate charter.

    This is something that needs to start happening a lot if we ever want to reduce the problem of corrupt business damaging society.

  • This is a little more general and less about this particular instance of abuse but... Does anyone here have any confidence that MS will stop breaking the law unless the courts effectively intervene? Does anyone here think that MS's huge contributions to the political campaigns of those corrupt people in charge of enforcing said laws will be able to prevent them from being effectively punished for a given abuse? Does anyone think the courts can act quickly enough so that they stop all the existing players in

  • by pyite69 (463042) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:37AM (#17664994)
    There is only one important thing to do to make the operating system market competitive - END THE PER-PC LICENSING. Every computer should have the option of having either Windows or another OS - the government should simply make sure that Microsoft doesn't discriminate against companies that offer an alternative. If I were the judge, I would have gone further and forced Microsoft to price Windows as a commodity so they would have to offer the same price to everyone - with stiff penalties for any sort of marketing kickbacks.

    The per-model scheme we have now is slightly better than per-processor, but still not adequate.

  • by vinn (4370)
    Ask the Wine developers. I'm sure there's hundreds of examples of issues.

    One thing to do would be to compare the msys headers with the wine headers. msys only contains publically documented interfaces, wine contains everything that's actually required.
  • Seeing that Microsoft's 2005 revenues are 39.788 Billion [morningstar.com] and that their net income is 12.254 Billion, both of those numbers are a significant chunck of the United States's 2005 GDP of 12455.8 Billion [bea.gov]. Microsoft's net income for 2005 is .098% of the United States's GDP and its total revenues for 2005 are .319% of the United States's GDP. Think about that for one second: one company. If you add 3M to Microsoft you get total revenues of 60.955 Billion 39.788 [morningstar.com]+21.1670 billion [morningstar.com]). Now let's add P&G. Sudden
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mdfst13 (664665)
      Microsoft's (international) revenues are less than a third of a percent of US GDP. Check, that's true.

      Adding Microsoft's revenues to those of two other companies can total *almost* one percent of GDP. Check, I can believe that too. Not sure why you picked 3M and P&G -- too lazy to search for a relationship. Therefore I'm simply going to assume that you picked two other decent sized but not huge companies (Microsoft is only 48th on the Fortune 500; Exxon Mobil is first with profits of about $36 billi

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