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Microsoft Government The Courts News

U.S. Faults Microsoft Licensing Compliance 241

An anonymous reader writes "In a written report card on how well Microsoft is complying with its 2001 antitrust deal with state and federal prosecutors, Justice Department lawyers said they might need the court to force Microsoft to act more quickly." The DOJ's court filing is online if you want to wade through it.
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U.S. Faults Microsoft Licensing Compliance

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  • by gotr00t ( 563828 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:05AM (#6367184) Journal
    It comes as no suprise that Microsoft isn't even living up to an antitrust settlement that is this painless. From day 1, it looked as if they had no intention of following it through, and now, it seems as if the lawsuit was never filed at all.

    What is a second lawsuit going to produce? Another slap on the wrist? If so, I will begin to think that the judges were... easily persuaded.

  • What happen.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bsharitt ( 580506 ) <bsharitt@LISPgmail.com minus language> on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:06AM (#6367189) Homepage Journal
    What happens if Microsoft doesn't do what they settlement says? Will they face harsher penalties?

  • by McAddress ( 673660 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:12AM (#6367230)
    If the government had really wanted to do something about Microsoft's monopoly, they would have broken it up like they did to the Bell's. Once they decided not to, it only became a question of "How much are we going to pretend to care about this?"

    Their answer as seen from the settlement, and the lack of compliance is "Not very much."

  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:13AM (#6367233) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft's substantial contributions to George W. Bush's 2000 campaign fund were very helpful in getting him into the White House. Bush returned the favor by allowing Microsoft to escape unscathed from the big antitrust suit.

    Now, Mr. Bush has begun the process of raising funds for his 2004 campaign, and it's time for Microsoft to pay up again.
  • Yawn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:14AM (#6367238) Homepage
    Who cares. They will not force MS to act in a manner that fosters competition. They won't enforce a penalty on MS. It just isn't going to happen in the US.

    Normal people think MS Windows and MS Office are what makes the computer industry, by that logic any action against MS would be an attack agains the industry, so they don't want to do anything.
  • by LordKaT ( 619540 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:15AM (#6367246) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that Microsoft, being as influential as it is, doesn't allow "free market" in certain enviornments. In a sense, they control the market. So, in a capitalist enviornment, it is more beneficial to have them broken up thus allowing for more competition.

    Remeber, having a monopoly is not illegal, having a monopoly and abusing your influence, such as the case of Microsoft, is illegal. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised for the courts to find that Microsoft has "pierced the corporate shield" with all of the tactics and tricks hey use.

    Then again, the republicans are in power ... ;/


  • by indros13 ( 531405 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:16AM (#6367254) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, you would think that with so many examples of corporate misbehavior and outright illegal activity that we'd have a Justice Department with some teeth. Instead, they waste their time covering up nude statues and hounding thousands of immigrants, most of whom have done no worse than stay past their green card expiration date.
    John Ashcroft, do your fscking job!

  • by Ridgelift ( 228977 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:21AM (#6367287)
    Your US government is trying to appease Microsoft. Appeasement never works. It only buys short term security. It doesn't work in diplomacy with countries, corporations or any relationship. [capmag.com].

    Though drawing parallels between brutal dictators and Bill Gates may seem harsh, the principle is the same. If people think they're safe now from Microsoft's monopolistic practices, they've bought into a false sense of security.
  • by Myriad ( 89793 ) <myriad.thebsod@com> on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:23AM (#6367296) Homepage
    Somehow this makes me think of the joke about English police stopping criminals without being allowed to carry guns:

    Bobby to criminal: Stop!! Or I'll say 'stop' again!!

    Except here we have:

    DOJ to MS: Comply!! Or we'll say 'comply' again!

    Sad, yes. Surprising, no.

    Blockwars [blockwars.com]: new features & bug fixes! All multiplayer. Go play.

  • by Trepalium ( 109107 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:25AM (#6367311)
    Anti-trust laws were originally made because the free market usually works well, there are times when it can break down and cause harm to consumers. Competition is what the free market is all about, but when a profitable monopoly is established, they tend to bleed dry any competition, either by buying them up, or bludgeoning them to death with lawsuits.

    People would nolonger aspire to become as rich and successful as possible? Is being greedy a crime?

    Guess what? Not everyone wants to have so much money that they could never spend it within their lifetime. I have no idea how someone could ever use 40 million dollars in their lifetime, let alone 40 billion. Personally, all I need is food, clothing, shelter, and something to do with my time that I enjoy. I don't need a fast/expensive sports car, an automated do-everything house, or my own aircraft.

  • Shock and awe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:26AM (#6367315) Homepage
    Not only is Microsoft not complying, they are in fact way in excess of the monopoly position that they were in when they started.

    They have been busy leveraging their monopoly into new markets (cell phones and games consoles to name but two) and reverse-leveraging their new market share in these industries back into the PC market for greater lock in (Outlook integration that is closer than 3rd parties can obtain for example).

    They have been investigating hardware lock in techniques (palladium style) and trialling them on consumers (Xbox) to prepare for the next wave of monoplising efforts. They are busy fundng other companies attacking their competators (SCO). They are proping up Bush econmic policy (share dividend at an advantageous moment) in return for special consideration (legal proglems decrease).

    Lets hope to God this triggers another investigation - there is such a huge increase in their deliberatly destructive antics now that even a half blind judge would break them up.

    Except that they will prbably buy him off too.
  • by kaltkalt ( 620110 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:34AM (#6367362)
    Antitrust law is a good thing, but if it's not used quickly enough, a monopoly can get so big, rich, and powerful, that laws no longer apply to it. It can afford to buy its way out of any problems it may face. Microsoft is just such a monopoly. It should have been broken up around the time of Windows 3.1. But it was left alone for years after that, and now it can fart in the faces of the justice department and there's not a single thing they can do about it (other than whine to the press).
  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:47AM (#6367449) Homepage

    A day when we celebrate victory in a civil war that began as a protest about taxation without representation.

    Say, how much representation do your taxes buy you? Wouldn't it be neat if we could all choose to pay "campaign contributions" to buy laws and fat federal contracts, instead of paying taxes to whoever we decided was probably the least bad of two candidates?

    I'm in agreement with George W that the only way to deal with oppressive unelected regimes is to replace them forcibly. I just think we should clean house at home before building any more aircraft carriers.

  • by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:00PM (#6367502)
    Antitrust law is a good thing, but if it's not used quickly enough, a monopoly can get so big, rich, and powerful, that laws no longer apply to it. It can afford to buy its way out of any problems it may face. Microsoft is just such a monopoly. It should have been broken up around the time of Windows 3.1. But it was left alone for years after that, and now it can fart in the faces of the justice department and there's not a single thing they can do about it (other than whine to the press).

    Your theory also requires that the judicial system and administration be corrupt.
  • by McAddress ( 673660 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:03PM (#6367518)
    Since the Bell breakup, prices on phone calls have dropped dramatically. Interstate calls used to cost $0.25 a minute (not adjusted for inflation). Now you can easily make them for less than $0.05 a minute.
    More phone companies have also been able to form, allowing users more choice than ever.
    Imagine where the celluar phone industry would be with only one company. Calls would cost upwards of a dollar a minute. The networks would not be so big. Cell phones would be as rare as car phones were.
    The government has an interest in controlling monopolies. Microsoft has used it's monopoly on operating systems to stifle competition. Just look back to this [slashdot.org]. Microsoft commits actions like this all of the time, but the DOJ has just turned the other way.
  • Re:OEM licensing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by beacher ( 82033 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:03PM (#6367520) Homepage
    Here's your all of the OEM [internetweek.com] Training [cnn.com] that the sales force needs, courtesy of Microsoft's chief sales executive Orlando Ayala.

  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:16PM (#6367611) Journal
    What did I expect? Oh yeah.. well, lemme think, ahem.., here I go:

    1. I expected a woman (Kollar Cotelly) would be a good judge, and would make us proud.
    2. I expected MS would be fined $2 bn., ordered to open the source for public inspection.
    3. I expected "Breakfast with Bill" would mean Bill comes to my place, and fixes my system with the latest Service Pack CD.
    4. I expected that the judgment would be in the best interests of the world computing community, and not just a narrow American interest.
    5. I expected His Billness to say "I'm sorry"
    6. I expected RMS, Linus, ESR and a few others to have received meritorious awards from the Presidents of the respective countries.
    7. I expected that MS would stop naming OSes after years, as if they wrote different ones every year.
    8. I expected that .Net was officially declared "Dead and Buried"
    9. I expected Java would be fast, flexible and open source.
    10. I expected more of the Slashdotters to have seen that the whole trial was just a farce - 9 States dissenting was a stage-managed stunt, the female lawyer was not 'randomly' selected, that the evidence shown and arguments had no effect or relevance on the judgment and compliance.....and, and.. well: I expected all of these would have been obvious to all but the few astro-turfing MS apologists and shills that infest the forums over here. In short, I expected justice,dignity and fair-play from a gorilla, and I was a fool - just like most of us.
  • Re:OEM licensing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:28PM (#6367687)
    Like This [slashdot.org]?

    It takes time for the OEMs to jump on board. You need to find a good distro, negotiate with the company, test it with your machines to make sure everything works properly, train your staff so they know what to do when some customer calls with problems about it, then finally decide how to market the thing! You also need to wait to make sure that MicroSoft is actually playing nice before you risk seriously screwing yourself by ticking off the supplier of the OS for every machine you sell. Remeber the story about the scorpion and the frog? If I were an OEM I would eb damm careful before messing with M$. Still as we've just seen they are coming out, it's just a matter of how long and what kind of response HP gets from both the comsumer and M$ to see if more machines come out with linux pre-installed
  • by kaltkalt ( 620110 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:34PM (#6367726)
    Not corrupt. Just powerless. It's quite possible to be full of honor and completely ineffectual at the same time. I'm not accusing anyone of being corrupt (other than MS of course). Lazy, yes. Corrupt, no.
  • Re:Insightful??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:45PM (#6367803)
    Unfortunately while what you said is true, it doesn't really invalidate what he said. Supports it more, actually. They're #34 in the top 100 - $10 million or so is nothing to sneeze at, and you can't deny that Microsoft has a lot of clout politically given their position in the IT marketplace.

    The donors in the top 100 above MS are interesting in and among themselves, but they're not software companies (possible exceptions of AOL and AT&T).

    Do you have an opinion yourself on why the DOJ backed down?


  • by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @01:00PM (#6367901) Journal
    I disagree.

    You could just as easily say that laws that force companies not to lie to investors are state intervention, and befitting of a command economy.

    A free market requires certain things to work: Educated consumers that can make rational choices about products, and the possibility of even making a choice.

    The average person faced with buying an Intel compatible computer has little choice, and generally lacks the education to make a rational choice about the products.

    Then, once they get the computer, all the little things MS does to lock out other software competitors bite them. They might try an alternate to Office, but when they realize they can't easily exchange files with peers, they will probably see no choice other than to buy MS office.

    I hope that government intervention isn't necessary to break the MS monopoly, I think we are making great progress toward those ends with only technical means. That said, even as a Libertarian, I am not totally opposed to the government compelling MS to stop engaging in anti-competitive behaviours.
  • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @01:07PM (#6367942) Journal
    Not really.

    Its not illegal to hire very very good laywers.
    Its not illegal to convince, through media, private conversations, arguments, that a politition should think in a certain way.
    Its not illegal to use all the resources available to you to its fullest extent.

    All of this can be done without relying on corruption. Just playing by the fullest extent of the rules.
  • by Spiderbaby1958 ( 686554 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @01:10PM (#6367965)
    A second lawsuit will at least produce some bad PR, which will counter Bill's recent informercial-style interview in USA Today.
  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @01:15PM (#6367999)
    "Since the Bell breakup, prices on phone calls have dropped dramatically. Interstate calls used to cost $0.25 a minute (not adjusted for inflation). Now you can easily make them for less than $0.05 a minute."

    We're talking about Bell here, not AT&T. IIRC, it's only with the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that the Baby Bells have really been able to get into the interstate long-distance market.

    The Baby Bells are essentially in control of intrastate long-distance (ie. within the same state), which IIRC have been more expensive than interstate long-distance calls for quite a while now.
  • Umm, (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Eezy Bordone ( 645987 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @01:41PM (#6368143) Homepage
    What do you expect them to do? It's not like they're going to get an anti-trust suit filed against them anytime soon...
  • by johnos ( 109351 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @02:14PM (#6368305)
    I think a "shoot-not-to-kill" policy is a TV invention. If you shoot someone anywhere but the legs or arms, odds are they will die. Trying to aim at their arms or legs is a poor idea, cause if you miss the ricochet might hit someone else. If you are going to shoot someone, you shoot them. Surviving the shot is their problem.

    If it wasn't life or death, then the cop shouldn't be firing in the first place. And for the most part, they are very, very careful. Because if it wasn't life or death before the first shot, it sure is after.
  • by Badanov ( 518690 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @02:47PM (#6368461) Homepage Journal
    You have an ignorance of the US that is really quite typical for a slashdotter. So you are forgiven. To wit:

    1) The US Constitution itself gives congress the power to regulate the economy. This was written into the body of the document, not as an amendment. One of the first fruits of that was the 1800s Interstate Commerce Act. A number of institutions were formed directly from this clause of the constitution. Most failed, but many survived, such as our federal reserve system, which is a model for central banks for nations the world over.

    2) The 1860s act which preceded the explosion of immigration to the west, established agricultural universities, required every state to map out its land and to make property public records, and the extension services farmers use today is a farm subsidy.

    3) Some states, like Oklahoma for example, allows kids as young as 14 to be licensed to use the country wide road system during the summer for the purpose of farming. Our very school system which gives kids summers off is intended to give farmers use of their kids. All of these things can be considered farm subsidies, but they are not.

    4) A 1790s law passed by congress gives publications a break in postal rates is considered to be a subsidy for the press, in a nation where getting news to the participants of a representative republic essential.

    Most of these laws and policies were established before Marx was sperm rolling around in his daddy's sacs, and are so old, so well considered, and so well put to use that no one even thinks of calling them antithetical to a capitalist country.

    This is the 4th of July. If you are an American try having a litle pride. It won't hurt, I promise.

    By the way: The depression of the 30s was a deflationary period for the world. It was a problem of glut, such as what we have right now. Government regulation didn't cause it. It made it far worse than it had to be and extended the recession for years longer than it had to be.

    Read the history: the federal reserve board's immediate reaction to the stock market crashes of the late 20s was the constrict the money supply. Hoover was rightly blamed for failing to exert any kind of influence over the Federal Reserve.

    The proper reaction for government of that era should have been to cut taxes and spending, sort of what has been done now except for the spending part. It appears that as long as government spending continues to remain at historical highs, we won't be out of this stagnation any time soon.

    But to give FDR credit for helping the nation out with his spending and his tax policies is like telling someone who sells a drunk who is still drinking an aspirin, he is now the drunk's personal physician.

  • Re:RTFA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wolfier ( 94144 ) on Saturday July 05, 2003 @01:35AM (#6371033)
    However, the whole POINT of putting the selection in the start menu is for Joe 6-pack to figure it out, not the computer savvy.

    It is by no means simple for the majority, and Microsoft knows it.

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