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Microsoft Antitrust Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson Dead at 76 193

Posted by timothy
from the different-kind-of-monopolistic-power dept.
McGruber writes "The NY Times has the news that federal judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who ruled in 2000 that Microsoft was a predatory monopoly and must be split in half, has died. He was 76 years old. 'A technological novice who wrote his opinions in longhand and used his computer mainly to e-mail jokes, Judge Jackson refuted Microsoft's assertion that it was impossible to remove the company's Internet Explorer Web browser from its operating system by doing it himself. When a Microsoft lawyer complained that too many excerpts from Bill Gates's videotaped deposition — liberally punctuated with the phrase "I don't remember" — were shown in the courtroom, Judge Jackson said, "I think the problem is with your witness, not the way his testimony is being presented."'"
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Microsoft Antitrust Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson Dead at 76

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  • I never understood why Microsoft forced Internet Explorer inside Windows. Did they fear Netscape's "API" would really threaten them ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by UnknowingFool (672806)
      Same reason they threatened Intel not to develop a Java VM and made their own Java incompatible with Sun. MS didn't want any competition from anyone. Whether or not the threat was credible, they were going to stomp it out.
    • by bondsbw (888959) on Monday June 17, 2013 @12:34AM (#44026141)

      It was about marketing. Microsoft controlled the default home page of anyone who used IE. This in turn helped promote their monopoly and push away competition.

      They also knew that controlling standard document formats (in this case, HTML; also, see Office) meant that others would always be judged against Microsoft's offering, placing Microsoft on a pedestal. No wonder IE didn't conform to the actual HTML standards until Microsoft no longer held the de facto standard.

    • You have to realize that at the time Microsoft Windows had something like 95%+ market share in the home and small to medium sized business market. This has declined in more recent years due both to the rising popularity of Apple and Google and the shift towards smaller and more mobile computing devices, like tablets and smartphones, amongst consumers. However, at that time there were few viable alternatives to the Wintel monopoly for consumers and anything that could threaten sales of Windows or Microsoft O
    • by dbIII (701233)
      It was probably something as petty as not wanting to pay royalties to spyglass for it since it was included as a "free" extra instead of it being considered a portion of the MS Windows customers paid for.
    • by smash (1351)

      Microsoft foresaw (correctly) that eventually the OS would become irrelevant, and the web would become the platform. Control the majority of the web browser platform and you can control that market. Thus, focus on IE in an attempt to gain market share and thus, developers. Once the developers are focused on writing for IE, they are more likely to use other MS technologies on the server end to match.

      This is exactly why we have a huge number of enterprises still screwing around with IE6.

      The popularity


      • Microsoft foresaw (correctly) that eventually the OS would become irrelevant, and the web would become the platform.

        No they didn't. Microsoft never "foresaw" anything like that. They simply try to "embrace and extend" successful ideas of others if considered a threat to their monopoly.
        • Uh, it wasn't just Microsoft, basically everyone who thought about the situation was forseeing that by the late 90s.
          • by smash (1351)

            Pretty much yeah. Yes, microsoft were a bit late to the internet party, but once they saw the explosion of the web the writing was on the wall.

            Mobile has taken them by surprise, however and Windows 8 is a dog. Looks like Windows 8.1 is going to be a dog, too.

            • Mobile has taken them by surprise,

              ? Windows has been on mobile phones for a long time. Longer than the iPhone.

      • "Microsoft foresaw (correctly) that eventually the OS would become irrelevant, and the web would become the platform. "

        That has to be the absolute most ridiculous line I have read on Slashdot in as long as I can remember. In other news, in new cars engines are irrelevant these days, and the freeway is now the platform! Also, Bill Gates foresaw the 9/11 Attacks! That's why he wasn't at the pentagon or in NYC that day!

        • by smash (1351)
          Irrelevant doesn't mean "not required". As in, it doesn't matter if it is Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Amiga, or some other platform we don't even know about yet. The platform applications are developed for is higher level than that now.
          • " As in, it doesn't matter if it is Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Amiga, or some other platform we don't even know about yet. The platform applications are developed for is higher level than that now."

            Put down the meth pipe. Seriously. I have more than 100 applications on my PC that I use with more or less frequency. I use exactly 0 applications on your fictional "higher level" (unless you count the "Slashdot App", as I suppose you would call it.) And even in cases where the Web is a major part of the a

            • by smash (1351)

              Good for you. You're a minority, and becoming increasingly so. So am I. However: Take a look at Office 365, Google Office, iWork in the cloud, etc.

              We aren't there yet, but I guarantee you that most business apps will be moving to web based stuff in coming years.

              There are a much greater majority of users who use their PCs for: banking, shopping, chat, social networking and minor multimedia editing/sharing.

              All of which is online.

              Don't like web services? Doesn't matter so much - it's a lot harder

    • by stox (131684) on Monday June 17, 2013 @01:24AM (#44026379) Homepage

      The initial IE was purchased from Spyglass for a small sum plus royalties on sales. Needless to say they were screwed. When Microsoft later claimed it was an integral part of the operating system, Spyglass claimed the royalty on a basis of Microsoft's Windows sales. This was settled out of court, but some damn fine cars were seen driving the roads of Naperville, Illinois, soon thereafter.

    • by atom1c (2868995)

      I never understood why Microsoft forced Internet Explorer inside Windows. Did they fear Netscape's "API" would really threaten them ?

      It's funny how Windows 98 Second Edition had this feature, Active Desktop, which allowed for the display of web content (plug-ins and all) directly onto the desktop background, and also supported native XML feeds (CDF)... and today everybody's going ga-ga over HTML5-based "apps" which run "native" to their mobile operating environment with the ability of utilizing an API -- XmlHttpRequest, developed by Microsoft Office team for their Outlook Web Access UI back in Exchange Server 5 days.

      Yeah, clearly Microso

      • "Yeah, clearly Microsoft had no idea that web-based content would be fetched for display in an OS... and that the renderer has best performance and security capabilities if it were baked into the OS instead of being bolted on."

        You have absolutely no idea how to develop software. Rest assured that putting browser code in kernel space is the single most stupid thing you could do with a modern OS. It buys you nothing significant in terms of performance, and makes you far less secure. Of course, that point i

    • by thediv17 (2839847)

      I never understood why Microsoft forced Internet Explorer inside Windows. Did they fear Netscape's "API" would really threaten them ?

      Yes that is exactly what they feared. Microsoft is the company that has a product for every (computer related) need. Just look at what you get in an MSDN Universal Subscription.

      Those subscriptions are very popular most software development, web development and IT support shops have a universal subscription. So if some new job comes up you already have the tool to do it in the MSDN CD folder and you've already read all about it in MSDN Magazine and heard about it at Technet conferences and all the books you

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday June 17, 2013 @02:42AM (#44026687) Journal
      1) They were aware that if they could make Internet Explorer the window to the web, they could own the web.
      2) They realized that the browser would become a platform for application programming, which would mean that people no longer would be locked in to Windows as a platform.

      Those were two really good reasons for them to worry about Netscape.
    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      I never understood why Microsoft forced Internet Explorer inside Windows. Did they fear Netscape's "API" would really threaten them ?

      The same way they "forced" Notepad and other bundled applications, because it's really useful to have.

      • Read the findings of fact [justice.gov]. It's a lot more complex than you imagine.

      • actually notepad is a pretty good example of why this practice sucks, most people put up with that piece of shit because it came free with the operating system rather than finding something that's actually good.
    • by spongman (182339)

      They made mshtml implement shdocvw because it made sense to add Internet Uris to the shell namespace.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Yes, they did. They were such control freaks that they couldn't stand the thought that a web based app might run equally well on Linux or Mac. The only out was to corrupt the standards enough that corporate apps would be IE only.

      They created such a lockdown that even with MS helping, their customers have taken years to even move to the next version of IE.

    • by jader3rd (2222716)

      I never understood why Microsoft forced Internet Explorer inside Windows. Did they fear Netscape's "API" would really threaten them ?

      Yes. Netscape was proposing a network connected API that would act as an interface between the program and the OS. It was going to be a complete API that would allow a developer to write a program that would run on the Netscape API and be OS independent.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I think they saw the browser as being an application platform in the future before others saw that. Not necessarily because they wanted internet based applications but because they wanted to make sure those application users were still using Windows. If the entire world could use Netscape or something else to get their work done then there'd be no reason to use Windows anymore. So they needed to make sure that they were in the browser market, that they had a very large market share of it, and then chang

  • Technological novice or not he had a better handle on the definition of "operating system" than many of the readers here. A solitaire game or web browser is not part of the computer operating system but instead just an application that comes with it. Rely on textbook definitions and not MS marketing or RMS seeing an opportunity to claim credit for a different project.
    • by Telvin_3d (855514)

      Part of this might be that the terminology hasn't really kept up with the realities of the situation. Initially an Operating System was literately just the software layer that operated the hardware. But right from the very start there were useful apps and commands baked in that were not strictly required for interfacing with the hardware. And as more and more things got taken for granted as part of the basic computing experience, they got added to the basic level of computer installation, which is the OS.

      If

    • Technological novice or not he had a better handle on the definition of "operating system" than many of the readers here. A solitaire game or web browser is not part of the computer operating system but instead just an application that comes with it. Rely on textbook definitions and not MS marketing.

      Users have never been interested in the geek's textbook definitions.

      They are shopping for systems. They like consistency. In-store demos. The out-of-the-box experience. Core applications which share a common look and feel with the desktop or mobile UI. Bare bones doesn't sell worth spit.

      • So? The beige box under the desk is not a "hard drive" no matter what the lowest common denominator says.
        Similarly I don't see why we should accept the MS marketing department definition of an operating system over the textbook one - yet so many have.
  • He screwed up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 17, 2013 @12:54AM (#44026253)

    He showed bias before the final judgement, and the ruling was nullified. It was the last best chance to break the back of the beast. Instead, we have had to put up with them for these last 13 years. They lied, cheated and stole their way to market domination. There are *hundreds* of companies and *thousands* of people they cheated and stole from. Not just Borland and Stac Electronics and IBM and DrDos and Broderbund. Not just FoxSoft and Adobe, hundreds of others.

    • by Camael (1048726) on Monday June 17, 2013 @05:44AM (#44027217)

      To be fair to the judge, he was the victim of a focused smear campaingn by MS. MS was fighting for its life and did not scruple at using every dirty trick it could.

      MS complained [bbc.co.uk] about several interviews that Judge Jackson gave with journalists, in which the judge uttered some blunt and unflattering comments about Microsoft and its icon, Bill Gates. The judge said that Gates had a Napoleon complex, that Gates's "testimony is inherently without credibility," and he likened Microsoft's behavior to that of street gangs and drug dealers.

      However, the judge's interviews and comments were made after he had heard all the evidence and the cases were closed. He decided that MS was not telling the truth, and that was his job. His only mistake was in granting the interviews before he issued his final judgment.

      The judge was careless, certainly, but his decision should have been allowed to stand.
       

  • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Monday June 17, 2013 @03:29AM (#44026829) Homepage
    Judge Jackson put up with all kinds of crap during the antitrust trial that would have garnered normal people punishment for contempt of court. One of the more ridiculous examples was when Microsoft execs presented a forged video [washingtonpost.com] as evidence in the trial. Not only was the video doctored, it was doctored in a bad, amateurish manner, just like their software. Even at the time it was a puzzle why that went unpunished. Now we can see that was just standard operating procedures for M$.
    • ...it was doctored in a bad, amateurish manner

      That must have been where Bill started quoting Peter Gabriel:

      I don't remember
      I don't recall
      I have no memory
      of anything at all.

  • From another obituary, apparantly one of his jokes:

    "The judge had a lively sense of humor. The Washington Post reported that he once told of a law professor, an appellate judge and a trial judge who went duck hunting. When a bird flew over, the law professor referred to a textbook. By the time he looked up, the duck was gone. When a second bird appeared, the appellate judge studied relevant precedents, and the same thing happened.

    The trial judge had no scholarly compunctions when a third bird flew into rang

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      Perhaps so, but forcibly splitting companies up into separate companies based on their product lines may not really be something we want government doing, regardless of any efficiency improvements it might bring? I don't think arguing about such forced reorganization making products "better" is a very valid reasons for using the force of Federal law against a business.

      Looking back on the whole issue, I think an awful lot of people's dislike for Microsoft's products drives them to support the claim that the

  • The idea the browser could not be separated was a fraud. Microsoft had just gotten done spending years developing and pushing its COM interface technology, and IBrowser was its flagship plug-and-play example. Anybody should have been able to slap a different browser in there.

    Whether the company should be "forbidden" from including a browser is a sepsrate issue. Security problems with IE (drive-by web page view hijackings, for example) probably did more to drive people to non-IE browsers than any judicial

  • "I have survived your predecessors, boy, and I will survive you!"

    Companies which take the long view always win.

  • May he rest eternally, viewing the blue screen of death.

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.

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