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Close out to Microsoft Anti-Trust Case 155

duder writes "It appears that both sides in the Microsoft anti-trust suit are filing the closing arguments according to the Washington Post. " It doesn't look any surprises-CNNfn has an additional update as well. The DOJ and MS have filed sharply contrasting legal briefs-Microsoft claims there's competition, citing Sun and Red Hat, the government claims they have a monopoly. And give the US justice system, I'm sure we'll see the end to this case sometime shortly after Rob actually finishes reading Cryptonomicon.
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Close out to Microsoft Anti-Trust Case

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  • The resurgance of Apple and the Linux explosion has no bearing on the case whatsoever. These developments are inadmissable as evidence for two reasons. First, the evidentiary period is over. Secondly, the government did not have an opportunity to rebut this statement. However, this hasn't stopped Microsft from trying to do just that, by asking Judge Jackson to take "judicary note" of these recent developments. Frankly I think it's a blatent ploy to cloud the issue that Micorsoft violated the Consent Decree.

    As a previous post said, the government could argue that the only reason why linux is starting to get support from OEMs is because Lord Bill has to watch himself right now. As soon as the trial is over, Lord Bill's Army of Darkness will return en masse. But the government doesn't have to, afterall a trial intrinsically deals with the past, not the present.

    FYI: The iMac was introduced LONG after the trial started.

    I follow the San Jose Mercury News's coverage of the trial []. So should each and every one of you!
  • > I think, for example, that RMS was absolutely
    > clear on that one.

    Can you give a reference to that claim? It is quite contrary to what he say in other occations, so if he made a cliam in that spirit to the court, it would be quite dishonest.

    Or are you trolling?

  • Truly, my question posed here is the crux of the issue. I have to start this post with a nice standard disclaimer:

    I am not a lawyer, but...

    First, I believe that given their current track record in Judge Jackson's courtroom, Microsoft will receive a ruling against them. However, the really interesting part will be seeing WHY this ruling was made.

    Microsoft will, no doubt, appeal the case. The details of the ruling in Judge Jackson's court will play a large part in determining how well they do in the appeals court. Right now, Microsoft feels that Judge Jackson is very biased against them (side note: gee I wonder why?). Therefore, their strategy is to assume that they will lose this round. They say that they are attempting to build a good basis to defend themselves in an appeal.

    So back to my original question: when do you label something a monopoly? Well here's one definition:

    MONOPOLY - This word has various significations. 1. It is the abuse of free commerce by which one or more individuals have procured the advantage of selling alone all of a particular kind of merchandise, to the detriment of the public.

    All combinations among merchants to raise the price of merchandise to the injury of the public, is also said to be a monopoly.

    A monopoly is also an institution or allowance by a grant from the sovereign power of a state, by commission, letters patent, or otherwise, to any person, or corporation, by which the exclusive right of buying, selling, making, working, or using anything, is given.


    Well let's cross of the 3rd one - that's easy, since the government does not say you have to buy Windows.

    By the first definition, Microsoft COULD be in trouble. No, they didn't sell ALL of the operating system software, or browser software. But at what percentage do you draw the line? And can you prove it was detrimental to consumers? That's the tricky part.

    The second definition COULD be used against them also. Once again, it is tricky to build this case, though. Did Microsoft use their monopoly to cause a price increase? Hmm. Do you include indirect profits? (e.g. give away a free browser, or sell your OS for cheap, then turn around and charge big server prices, since your Windows machines need a Windows server). Now, that's not necessarily true of course - just an example though.

    Notice throughout this definition, though, that the word monopoly is really unrelated to whether or not you hurt your competitors. You can play dirty all you want as long as you aren't hurting the public, and you do, in fact, have competition.

    Don't get me wrong - I think Microsoft's business practices are dirty, and they flex their muscle too much. But other companies (AOL and Sun, for example) can and do play the same way, given the chance.

    Microsoft will probably lose this round with the DOJ, but I think in the end, after all the appeals and such, it will be very difficult to win a case against Microsoft, stating that they are a monopoly.



  • Secondly, Microsoft isn't legally a monopoly in the first place. Lets not change the definition of a monopoly just because we hate Microsoft. A 90% market share alone does not make a monopoly--you have a control entry into the market place, for one. This means that you can block other people from entering the market. Microsoft can't really do that: that can't (and haven't) stopped Linux, Be, etc. from making their own OSes.

    Monopolies do not stop people from making competing products. They stop people from being able to successfully market them. Microsoft has done a good job of this until the antitrust trial. Why is Linux gaining popularity? Because large companies like Intel are supporting them. Why is that happening? Because Microsoft, on trial for antitrust, can't afford to attack companies that support Linux. The trial is what makes Linux marketable today; it was basically unmarketable before the trial began. Yes, distros did exist, but not from any true economic perspective.

    And the 90% marketshare applies ONLY to desktops--Windows NT is actually a MINORITY in the server market. Remember, 70% of all Internet servers, for example, are Apache (OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE!) and that means they are running either Unix or one of its various clones. Even in LANs, Novell and Unix beat MS hands down.

    Desktops are enough! Note that Microsoft is using their desktop monopoly to populate the server market. They work hard to make sure that you need Windows NT servers to run networks of Windows 9? machines. They are also using this monopoly, with Internet Explorer, to gain control of the Internet, by embracing and extending HTTP and HTML until the best way to communicate with Windows browsers is with Windows Web servers.

    Finally, if Microsoft IS punished, this could be a nightmare for the industry. One, it means that the industry will have to be VERY careful about innovations, because they will have to be looking over their shoulders to make sure the DOJ isn't there watching their every move. Declaring the browser as part of the operating system isn't that farfetched--including Netscape on the Caldera distribution for instance, with a Caldera logo on it no less, is practically the same thing.

    The precaution against bundling is not a problem for the rest of the industry. It is specifically a problem with Microsoft, who signed a legal agreement not to bundle as part of the resolution of a previous antitrust trial.

    Look at from a car perspective: if the DOJ says that MS can't bundle IE with Windows, how much of a stretch is it to say DaimlerChrysler or General Motors can't bundle, say, an Infiniti sound system with their cars? If DaimlerChrysler or General Motors controlled the automotive market, there might be good cause to limit their ability to bundle certain stereos with those cars. Since they do not, however, consumer choice is safe.

    Monopolistic corporations require more legal restrictions than other corporations, because other corporations are restricted by the marketplace itself. The point of antitrust law is to step in with legal laws where the consequential laws of a capitalist market have failed.

  • Even if they don't allow Bill to have investment in the "baby bills" (I hate that name), he will still be the world's richest man. It won't hurt him and the government can't take that away from him. My feeling is that Bill will throw himself in with the OS division if it does happen. That is where all the research happens - at least for all the gee-whiz stuff they like to talk about. My $0.02 worth.
  • First off, one has been able to buy a personal computer without Windows or MSDOS on it since...umm...personal computers came out.

    I believe he was talking about x86 "PCs", not just personal computers in general. The PC is the standard and has been so for quite a while. Yes, you could buy a mac, but then you get a proprietary OS AND proprietary hardware.

    Choices included Apple, Amiga, Commadore, etc.

    None of these are "PC compatible." They are all proprietary and 2 of the three are basically defunct.

    Hell, you could of gotten OS/2 from IBM.

    You still can get OS/2 from IBM when you buy a system from them. You simply can't get it pre-installed and you still have to buy Windows whether you intend to use it or not.

    What you could not buy -- and still can not buy -- is a Windows-based PC without Windows. Nor will you ever be able to. Because that simply does not make sense.

    Sure it makes sense. I want to buy a PC with an Intel processor from one of the top ten OEMs in the country. I plan to run Linux on it. Therefore, I don't need to purchase any OS with the machine. Can I buy it without paying for Windows? Well, I can now... from a couple of them anyway. But at the time the trial was beginning, I couldn't have bought a system from any of those companies without paying for Windows. Even if I didn't have any intention of running Windows on that machine.

    Neither you nor you and any number of others (e.g., government) have any right whatsoever to force me to build a PC the way you want it.

    So what gives Microsoft the right to pressure these companies into limiting my purchasing options? They fear Microsoft because Microsoft happens to own the most-used OS in existance today. They need to be able to offer it because many customers DO want it. That shouldn't have to mean that their other customers have to get the shaft. Microsoft allows them to offer it providing they get paid for every desktop system that ships, regardless of whether or not the customer actually wants the OS. This means that the OEMs can't offer systems running competing OSes at a competitive price. This severely limits competition, which in turn harms consumers. We have anti-trust laws to protect consumers in situations such as this. That is why Microsoft is being prosecuted. They wouldn't allow their products to compete solely on merit. They had to do everything possible to kill the competition. That's bad for everybody except them. That's not the way our system was designed to operate. The DOJ will hopefully fix the problem.

  • This argument is flawed. If in 18 months one can create reasonable competition and bring down a monopoly, it probably never was one!

    There isn't reasonable competition yet. Just a couple of OEMs that have managed to shake some of the chains off. You still can't buy a computer from most of the top OEMs without paying for Windows.

    Secondly, it is unjust to say that linux or any other OS somehow became viable because of the DOJ proceedings...

    Why is it unjust to say that? I think the DOJ suit is the primary reason why any of the major OEMs are even considering offering another OS on their machines. Surely, if Microsoft didn't have to curtail its anti-competitive behavior during the trial, the OEMs who dared to offer a competing product would have been slapped down hard.

  • During the trial, Microsoft actually tried to claim that it faced competition from its own products. They must really believe us to be buffoons. When Windows 98 came out, they raised the price of Windows 95 to a point substantially higher than that of Windows 98. It's not too hard to compete with a product when you can control its price. That would be like Coke being able to make Pepsi charge $1.00 per can while Coke charges $.50. They call that competition? The same thing was done with Win 3.1 and Windows 95, as well as with DOS and early versions of Windows before that.

  • I'm not sure how many people are aware of this, but among the average human, -Windows- has a steep learning curve (not to mention computers in general).
    The way I see it, the lurning curve for windows is quite flat at first, then rises sharply when you actually want to find out what it is doing without telling you. This is because you can never truly know what a M$ OS is up to. There comes a point when windows has filled itself with so many problems, often with no prompting from the user, that it's just a case of reinstalling now and again to get back to a known state.

    On the other hand, the learning curve for Linux and *BSD systems seems quite constant, everything in general works as it should. Maybe this constant learning curve is slightly higher than the start of a windows system, but if you work your way up that curve, you'll be able to carry on climbing rather than hitting a brick wall of problems that you are unable to solve.

    You can find any information you want, and there is at least some relevant information for most problems available.
    The problems that do occur are nearly always ones that have been created by a user doing something wrong, rather than the OS doing it just for the hell of it!
  • This argument is flawed. If in 18 months one can create reasonable competition and bring down a
    monopoly, it probably never was one!

    I disagree. Remember that 18 months is a long time in the computer industry. Here's a silly example: right now Microsoft has a legal monopoly on sales of Microsoft Office. If (by some incredible leap of legal logic) the government decided to rescind that monopoly, do you really think it would be more than 18 months before other companies started selling their own Office CDs? More like 24 hours if you ask me...
  • Ok, now I will need to surf until I find the passage in which RMS said that "these people have no business using a computer." I think he was referring to people who were unable to either install or compile an OS or a kernel. As soon as I have recovered the url, I will post it.
  • I think the advent of all those MS "competitors" amounts to little more than to holes in Swiss cheese.

    What bothers me much more is that, even if MS is found guilty, the verdict will be way too late. One of the big arguments against MS is that they are exploiting and magnifying network effects, meaning that since everybody is already using MS products and they supposedly work well together, since it's more efficient to write applications for a big installed base etc. they have a much easier sell than their competition.

    The current antitrust laws are horribly inadequate since they concentrate on punishment, way after the damage has been done. It's similar to shutting down the fire department and diverting all the funds to convicting arsonists. You'll get the guilty at the cost of a lot of charred houses.

    A more proactive set of laws would be much more useful. Forcing open standards on software companies to ensure vendor-independent interoperability would be a possible start. Instead of punishing improper business practices, much more attention should be paid to emerging network effects and to keeping the impact of these effects as small as possible.

    Possible solutions might violate the spirit of a free market as it is understood today, but would surely increase the common good for society. After all, free markets aren't a natural phenomenon. A free market is what our laws define it to be.
  • Actually, splitting MS is the least likely possibility according to most analysts. Nor is the monopoly abuse of power a proven case. Much as people here would like to dance on Microsoft's grave, the DOJ has to satisfy the legal requirements for an anti-trust suit:

    1) The company has a monopoly
    2) It abused that monopoly, resulting in economic harm

    Neither has been proven to the point where it is obvious.

    MS shot itself in the foot when its witness, Richard Schmalansee, said that there is no competing product at the moment. (To top it off, he made truly idiotic remarks such as the one about MS writing their sales figures on paper and not using PCs). OTOH, the govt. witness made a big blunder when he said that no economic harm had been caused to the consumer (which will be a crucial point).

    But then, the judge is known to have fallen asleep frequently during the trial and is not a big fan of MS, so it's pretty much a toss of the coin.

  • by Brian Kendig ( 1959 ) on Saturday September 11, 1999 @06:32AM (#1689388) Homepage
    I read this part of Microsoft's "Finds of Fact" with great interest, amusement, shock, and horror:

    I got to thinking about that. I thought, why restrict this reasoning to just computers?

    So I picked up a blue Bic ballpoint pen in my hand, and I am declaring it now an integral part of my body. I am obviously not Homo Sapiens any more, since I am now distinguished by my ability to write indelible marks on certain surfaces without the need for any additional, separate tools. To paraphrase Microsoft's argument:

    There are several ways to create marks on paper. One way is to use a pencil or a pen. Because that is the choice most people make, it's commonly accepted that a pen is a separate tool. But the writing-related abilities in my new body comprise many elements, including the muscles in my hand and forearm and the clicky thing on top of the pen that I can make noise with. Depending on the context, it's common for me to use the term "pen" to refer to any one of these elements, but this does not mean that the pen in my hand is a separate tool like the pens that other people use. Although I have other pens which I loan to people sometimes, there is no identifiable "pen" which can be excised from my body without degrading my basic capabilities: if you remove the pen from my hand, then I lose the important ability to create marks on paper, and the pen is useless when removed from my hand. I got this pen from a K-mart at the same time as I got some deodorant and potato chips, so it's obvious that this pen is simply one element of a larger plan which affects my entire body and how I interoperate with other people. Rather than view this Bic as a pen that sits in my hand, it is more correct to view my hand and forearm as an advanced writing implement which is capable of many various tasks. My psychiatrist contends that people universally regard pens as tools and not as part of the human body, but he offered only anecdotal support for that "proposition" whose relevance is dubious anyway.

  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Saturday September 11, 1999 @06:42AM (#1689389) Homepage
    Look guys... I would think that most of the people reading this page would have heard by now the legal definition of monopoly under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. It is NOT the same as the common sense definition people keep arguing under.

    A monopoly, in legal terms, is simply having enough market share that you can exercise a profound influence on the entire market. There have been succesful cases where the "monopoly" was only about 40% of total market share -- don't even try to tell me that Microsoft doesn't meet that definition!

    Also, being a monopoly is perfectly legal! We have all kinds of monopolies, and they are completely legal! However, when you are a monopoly, there are certain things that you are not legally permitted to do. For example: you cannot use your monopoly power in one market to strong arm your way into other markets or engage in predatory pricing.

    The question here is not whether Microsoft is a monopoly: it is obvious that within the terms of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act they are (all this "we have competition" talk is just a pseudo-populist smoke screen). The question is whether they (a) used there monopoly in the OS market to get into the browser market and (b) engaged in predatory pricing in the browser market.

    That's all -- did they do those things??? If they did, then they should be found at fault in this trial to the full extent of civil liability. That's the law, if you don't like it change it. But we don't have ex-post facto laws; they are still responsible for their actions prior to any change in the anti-trust laws.

    FWIW, IMNSHO they are guilty as sin and should be brought to task for the above and for their deliberate attempts to subvert the american political system. I think these attempts border on sedition. But that's another question.
  • I can't imagine RMS having made such a statement. He cares about freedom, which includes the freedom for anyone to use computer programs. This does of course not translate into him caring whether people who don't view computing the way he does find software to hard to use or not, but I don't think he is actually opposed to software that "normal" people find easy to use, he just doesn't care much about it. Or maybe he does care about it, I don't know. But I've never seen him state they don't have any business using computers, and it doesn't seem like something he'd say. IMHO, of course, I can't speak for him, because I'm me and not him.
  • I find you and the poster you were responding to to both be lacking in evidence. He/she made allegations without offering even a single example or shred of evidence. You attempt to shoot down his claims by saying you have looked for proof and didn't find any. Where did you look? What did you find? How long did you pursue the matter? Seems rather pointless to discuss the whole thing without even basic information.

  • No wonder it has only been tried 3 times in 70 years previously, and actually executed only once.

    Thought it had been used to good effect at least twice. Once with Standard Oil, and once with AT&T.

  • I've followed the Register's [] Microsoft coverage, and unless they were blatently biased, Microsoft shot themselves in the foot on every conceivable occasion; a guilty verdict cannot but be far behind.
    But if that's the case, what happens next? Splitting up Microsoft seems to be the most favoured option, but while that'll stick it to Bill, I can't see it doing anything to encourage MS to move towards the light side.
  • The real issue, is what market are we talking about?

    The flaw in your argument is that you consider the "OS market" (whatever you mean by that) and the "browser market" to be separate markets.

    Microsoft was able to define these markets just fine. They spelled it out in some of their internal documents. They knew who the competition was (what little there was of it anyway) and they knew what the markets were. Microsoft referred many times to a "browser market" and an "OS market." They have been contesting this in court, with their pet economist stating that you can't define the markets. This after he just got finished defining those markets in another case in which he was testifying for Microsoft (they won that case, btw). He got around this little problem by simply stating that he had realized that he was mistaken. Well, gee, who could argue with that? Too bad he didn't realize his error until after he had mislead another court into buying into his crap. I'm sure he sleeps well at night though, comforted by Microsoft's significant compensation for being their mercenary economist.

  • One of the biggest things they could do to make Microsoft play fair is to make them publish a price list for all OEMs. There should be no cash changing hands for the various marketing agreements and such. There should be no discounts or other price changing factors allowed. They give Microsoft way too much leverage over everyone else. Example: One company won't agree to ship only Windows on their machines. So, Microsoft raises prices by 30% across the board on their OEM pricelist. They then proceed to give all the OEMs, except the rogue OEM, a 30% discount on everything. They've effectively raised the price for just that one OEM.

    Making Microsoft stop using their financial clout to destroy the competition and harm any company who would make competing products available would go a long way towards bringing competition back into the OS market. I don't think this is the only remedy that is needed, but I think it would be a good start.

  • by Paul Crowley ( 837 ) on Saturday September 11, 1999 @05:02AM (#1689397) Homepage Journal
    Things have been going badly for Mr. Gates ever since Monsieur L'Entarteur, Noel Grodin, made him a present of a tasty cream pie. First the antitrust suit, then the arrival of Linux on the public consciousness and rapid exponential gain in popularity. In true Sumo wrestler style, he's tried to fend off one attack with another, pointing at the rise of Linux as a reason why he can't be a monopoly.

    But the case isn't about what's happening now; it's about whether Microsoft had behaved illegally prior to February 1998. The DOJ can silence this line of argument with one simple suggestion:

    "You only now have competition *because we're suing you*. You behaved illegally, so we dragged you into court. Now you're having to behave yourself to stand a chance in the trial, it's not as easy for you to tell people "you'd better buy our product because all our rivals are doomed", and competition is returning to the marketplace. But if the court allows you to get away with the way you used to behave, you'll be back to the usual FUD, lock-out, and illegal monopoly behaviour faster than you can say 'not guilty'. Your honour, I put it to you that this behavour can only be brought to an end if we THROW AWAY THE DAMN KEY!"

    Anyway, I'm sure it won't matter. They've *really* pissed Judge Jackson off, and now Microsoft are going to lose so badly your head will spin in two directons at once. And they'll find it very hard to appeal the decision - especially after they jail Mr. Ballmer for perjury...

    We keep winning, don't we?
  • Dell is offering Linux on server machines. Not desktops. Microsoft doesn't have a lock on the server market. Compaq, IBM, and others have always offered other OSes on their servers. Microsoft *DOES* have a lock on the desktop market. You don't see Linux, Beos, OS/2 or anyone else getting onto desktop machines at any of the top-tier OEMs without Microsoft still getting its cut.

  • by Danse ( 1026 )

    Exactly. Which doesn't mean that Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly. It simply means that they have a legal monopoly. Now, unfortunately for Microsoft, it doesn't matter how you got the monopoly, once you have it, you play by a different set of rules. These rules are designed to make it possible for competing products to gain access to the market. Microsoft has used every trick in their book to prevent competitors from gaining any access to customers. They did this through contracts with the major OEMs preventing them from selling their hardware without paying Microsoft for the software, whether the customer wanted it or not. They did it by buying up some of these companies and quietly disposing of the technology or incorporating it into Windows. They did it by spreading FUD to make people fear the other options. They did it by giving away products they had formerly charged for, simply to run competitors out of business (otherwise known as dumping). They did it by duplicating others' technology and tying it to their monopoly product.

    I know there are other methods that I can't list off the top of my head. The point is that even though Microsoft gained their monopoly legally (though this is still a debated point for many), they are in court because they used that monopoly in illegal ways.

  • I reckon that the Register is blatantly biased *and* that Microsoft is guilty as sin. There isn't a causal relationship between the two.

    As for what to do with Microsoft, I favour splitting them up into smaller units. How many? I present this simple formula, which the DOJ is welcome to borrow :

    #Baby Bill companies = #Current Microsoft Employees

    That should keep them out of mischief.

  • Open standards are good, but non-voluntary compliance??

    Right. I don't think compliance should be mandatory. I think that companies should be able to make what they like. I DO , however, think that the government should not contribute to the proliferation of closed standards. Closed standards are not in the best interests of everyone. We, as a people, should have full access to our government's information without being required to purchase software from a specific company. Nor should the government use our tax dollars to purchase software from a single source when other sources are available and more in line with our interests. (i.e. the other choices are much cheaper and allow the government to contribute something back to the community rather than take from all of us to give to a very small group of companies). Purchasing from a single source actually is illegal for government agencies unless they give a justification for doing so. There have been several cases lately where a government agency has purchased software from Microsoft for their entire agency (or certain sites) without providing a "Sole-Source Justification." They would take their entire existing network and replace it with all Microsoft software. They got a little hand-slapping by Congress and everyone went about their business. That's not the way it should be.

    If the government would just mandate that all government agencies (or anyone using government funding) must use only open-source software when such software is available and suitable to the task, we might have less trouble with proprietary standards running rampant. The language they use would probably have to go into much more detail, as the words I used could be interpreted in wildly different ways.

  • The DOJ must indeed insist with the court that Linux is no competition to Windows.

    Linux is nothing more than a job protection programme for nerds, who insist on the idea that every computer user types in stuff like: gcc -La.out -vi -OMyThing.o -kMyProgram.cpp -1 -2q ...

    ... Or else stay away from computers. I think, for example, that RMS was absolutely clear on that one.

    That's why I believe that Microsoft must be split up into at least two companies, one for the Windows, and one for applications. Furthermore, Windows must be regulated as an essential utility, until there is sufficient competition on the desktop.

    I would say, as soon as Windows has a market share below 50%, this arrangement may be reviewed.
  • by Evro ( 18923 ) <> on Saturday September 11, 1999 @05:08AM (#1689403) Homepage Journal
    When this whole lawsuit thing began, or even before it, MS definitely had a monopoly. But that was so long ago. Now look at the changes that have occurred since the beginning of this craziness: Red Hat has become huge, AOL bought Netscape, Apple's stock practically doubled in the face of its new products (was the iMac introduced before or after this trial started?), and countless other changes have occurred.

    I'm not saying Microsoft doesn't still have an unfair advantage, but I'm wondering what time frame this trial is supposed to be considering. Is the question, "Does Microsoft have a monopoly today?" or is it, "Did Microsoft have a monopoly in 1997 (or whenever this thing began)?" They are different questions, and I think we need to know which one is being asked (as does the judge) before making a decision.
  • He's not giving it all (or even most) away. That was something that got spit out into the news and Bill has already stated that he didn't say that. He gives away a fair amount, and gets hefty tax breaks for it too. Note that he started really getting into giving to charity right about the time the trial got going. His money makes more and more money. I doubt he could give it all away if he tried. The money isn't the important thing. He already has more than he or his decendants will ever be able to spend (unless they each decide to buy their own countries). He's in it for the power. He can give away a couple billion here and there and it won't diminish him a bit. He's got plenty more coming in. It will help his public image and make it easier for him to get away with things though.

  • Dell is selling Linux workstations:
  • They can't prevent him from investing in the "baby bills". Bill Gates is not on trial, so he cannot be personally punished. You can do whatever you want to Microsoft, Inc., but you can't punish the investors directly.
  • I agree. A fact is that no one else could have done it, except for someone with the market power of Micros~1. They used their domination of the desktop to stiffle competition in the market for web browsers. This is a very serious issue. In order to protect society, the court should now order that Micros~1 be split up, and that Windows be regulated as an essential utility.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, 1999 @06:50AM (#1689408)
    A finding of facts in the case is due soon from Judge Jackson. (this does not involve questions of guilt/innocence or penalties. The Judge is aware of the bias in the appeals court and has split up the rulings(verdict) process into discrete steps so as to up the ante on them) The main event is a finding on whether or not Microsoft is a monopoly in desktop OS market. The Judge looks very likely to declare MS a monopoly. Whatever else happens this will have longlasting legal implications for Microsoft. His subsequent rulings finding guilt and innocence and legal remedies may all get overturned by the Reagan-Bush (2/3)appointed appeals court. It will be more difficult for them to overturn his finding of fact --would be too blatant an annullment. They can can argue that capital punishment is too harsh for the crime of manslaughter, but they can't argue that and that there was no unlawful death in the first place. In overturning Judge Sporkin's Consent-Decree they found for Microsoft that Judge Sporkin had read a book on Microsoft's corporate history and must have been biased against Microsoft. And on this excuse they threw the whole ruling out, without having to challenge the facts (did Ms do what was alledged and are these acts illegal). Judge Jackson will not make it so easy for them.

    If the monopoly finding stands, current plaintiffs like Caldera and Sun will not have to prove Microsoft wields monopoly power in their cases. They can show evidence of attempts by MS to damage their technologies and confidently rely on the monopoly finding as the proof they need to claim that these malicious attacks are legally out-of-bounds and not just ordinary business competition. It also may have the effect of magnifying settlement/damages in the Caldera case and others I've forgotten about.

  • Tried to post this previously, guess I misfired or something.. I forgot what I did with it. heh. Anyway.. For brevity's sake: I never kept track of MS views. However, contradicting themselves like they did is still not very brilliant. Then again, who ever accused them of being brilliant?

    Why I don't like Sun's trademark terms: If I wanted to have a Red Hat and a Sun logo on my site, I'd have to a) keep RH logo same size and make Sun logo smaller, thereby making Sun logo illegible and dumb looking or b) blow up RH logo, thereby making it dumb looking. That's not much fun.

    I noticed the text-writeable boxes too. Pretty funny stuff. They are also the work of a company I wouldn't want to buy anything from. I don't think they figured out the Web design thing just yet.

  • [Marge Simpson} :"Mmmmmmmmmmm!!"

    Actually, yes, no doubt if things were to have continued like they were, Apple would have probably eventually had to file Chapter 11, or at least Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In my opinion. They had been reporting quarterly losses in the 10's and 100's of millions. Except for one quarter during Amelio's administration in which they reported a slight profit, but it was pretty weak. They weren't all that attractive a buy-out at the time, either, IIRC.

    More importantly, and contrary to what might be a popular misunderstanding:
    • Billy Boy did not "bail out" Apple. At least not financially. Apple still had something like $1 billion in the bank, even though they were fast -approaching- the edge.
    • At Jobs' 'request' to Gates, Microsoft 1) purchased $150 worth of NON-VOTING Apple stock as a sign of good faith, (which is now worth more than Apple's most recent quarterly profits, I might add), and 2) paid Apple a then undisclosed figure to settle a number of patent infringement suits, (ripping off QuickTime code for one). The amount was later learned to be $200 million.
    • This did in some way "bail Apple out" in that it lent Apple some badly needed credibility that it was not going to disappear any time soon, since it could be read as "Well if MS invested in them, they must have some chance of survival, right?"

    Bottom Line: I think it is a misinterpretation of the facts to say that "Microsoft bailed Apple out".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Unfortunately the gov and MS have been to court on this account already and tho MS initially lost, the ruling on the Consent-decree was overturned on the basis that the Judge in the case (S. Sporkin) was biased against MS by virtue of having read a book about them. No, really!

    I suppose DOJ is treading lightly around the pre-load and per-processor licensing issue because they fear MS successfully appealing any such case based on double-jeopardy. It would be very close to what they were tried on before, enough so that an ambiguity would arise whether or not MS was being tried a second time for something they had previously been "acquitted" on. All a dirty mu-fukkin ratbastard needs is a little ambiguity. They can march to Moscow in the wintertime under the banner of ambiguity. Man, do I hate the law.

    That's my guess anyway.

  • Even if they can't prove that they've abused their monopoly, simply establishing Microsoft as being an official/legal monopoly would be considered a win by the DOJ.

    Microsoft does have some valid arguments in terms of not actually "harming" consumers, per se. They have succeeded in lowering the cost of browsers to zero, which is a plus for consumers.

    What remains unproven and unprovale is what the net effect would have been if Microsoft had not thrown it's collective weight towards the goal of squashing Netscape. It won't ever been known what could have developed and therefore aided consumers.

    Forgive me by saying this, but if anyone thinks that Microsoft faces serious competition in the OS market right now, you're sadly mistaken. MacOS, Linux, Be, Solaris, etc... have not even scratched the surface. MSFT's licensing practices (model licensing now, vs. per processor licenses before) severley limits the ability of a company to sell systems without a MSFT operating system. Even if Redhat achieves a 20% market share, if 75% percent of that 20% of PC's initially shipped with Win XX preinsalled, that that demonstrates that Microsoft is indeed harming customers by making htem purchase software they don't use because of strict license agreements.

    So, even if it can not be shown that MSFT has abused it's monopoly, if the DOJ can demonstrate that MSFT HAS a monopoly, that's good enough. By doing that, just about every action they take (release of software, investing in companies, etc) would be strictly scrutinized by the governmnet to make sure that each act would not have the potential to harm the consumer.

    Remember the anti-trust case that never was against Intel? Intel wisely backed down and agreed to all sorts of concessions in order not to be labeled an official monopoly. If Intel was afraid of that, and given that they do actually face more direct competition at this time than Microsoft does now or has in several years, Microsoft will end up being nailed as such. And if that's the case, other companies can unleash private suits against MSFT and submit the fact that they're a monopoly as evidence.
  • Well, it's difficult to purchase a PC without windows, because, in all honesty, up until this year MAYBE, there hasn't been a viable alternative for OEM's to install.

    Even today, because of Microsofts tactics in foreclosing the market with it's licensing practices, most customers demand Windows installed on their PC's. So, OEM's ship PC's w/windows pre-installed. And they get bigger discounts if they purchase windows for an entire product line rather than on a box by box basis.

    My guess is that there will be drastic changes in how microsoft is able to sell their products, such that:

    1 - they publish their prices, which all OEM's must pay, with the only variation being for volume. (so that OEM's don't face punishment for installing a competitors software)

    2 - OEM's being allowed to install and deinstall whatever pieces of Windows that they choose, in order to allow for product differntiation and customer demand.
  • by um... Lucas ( 13147 ) on Saturday September 11, 1999 @07:26AM (#1689414) Journal
    As much as we love Linux here, it's inappropriate to say that Microsoft faces serious competition from Linux for anything other than WinNT, which is a much more specialized product than Windows 98. I know we all want linux to compete with Windows as a whole, but that competition has not materialized.

    Microsoft can not defend itself by saying that they face the potential for competition in the future. One of MSFT's primary sources of competition for Windows 98 adoption, according to their own documents, was customer compliance in using Windows 95. It wasn't Linux or Be, it was just their own customers that may not want to upgrade. THAT IS NOT COMPETITION.

    AT&T could have said that there existed the potential of creating satelite based communication systems, and therefore they didn't have a monopoly.

    Standard Oil could have pointed to the possibility of using Nuclear Power in the distant future and their fore they faced the potential for competition.

    The potential is not enough. It's either there or it isn't, and right now, Microsoft does not face serious competition. They should be declared a monopoly, and have all of their future behavior subject to scrutiny. 18 months from now, if the situation has changed, then regulation of them could be rolled back in order to account for the change in market condidtions.
  • Off-topic, but anyway ....

    "A free market is what our laws define it to be."

    Not if it is a true free market. A free market can only be called free to the extent that it is not regulated. Forget about anti-monopoly laws and simply make stuff good enough that it succeeds.

    Open standards are good, but non-voluntary compliance??

    David Mitchell

  • When this whole lawsuit thing began, or even before it, MS definitely had a monopoly. But that was so long ago. Now look at the changes that have occurred ...

    You're making the assumption that there is a unified market for personal computer operating systems, which there clearly is not. Hopefully the DOJ doesn't fall into the same trap.

    MacOS is only defending their traditional educational, student, and publishing nitches. To be fair Apple pretty much invented these computing markets, and has never really done well elsewhere.

    Linux has carved out a workstation nitch in academia, and a server nitch at ISPs and more saavy corporations. Lots of techies are duel booting to learn the thing.

    No one has began to touch Windows on the corporate desktop. These systems (and all the work-at-home machines) are still willingly locked-in to the Microsoft monopoly by their owners.
  • And too bad that Redhat hasn't achieved financial success in terms of actual sales. They possess a large market capitalization due to the perception that Linux could one day stand on its own against Windows and therefore Redhat will be at the front.

    This is another case of Microsoft doublespeak.

    When people compare their own irrational market cap, they deflect the question by staying that the combined sales of their rivals (Sun, IBM, Oracle, AOL, formerly Netscape) dwarfed their own sales.

    Now, they're no longer talking of Redhats spectacular sales, which maybe 1/500th of Microsofts. Instead, they've changed the focus back to stock valuations, where Redhat is valued 1/50th of Microsoft's value instead...

    Nice how they turn arguments around like that. Now people should start asking how they've survived so long on such a high PE ratio if they indeed face as much serious competition as they claim.

  • Are you sure that you are paying "MS TAX" - or is it Economy of Scale Tax?

    Think about it -- RedHat+Support costs the same as Windows+Support (or more even because Dell does their own Windows support). Windows outsells RedHat 20 to 1. Which product should cost more?
  • I don't think that customer rejection of proprietary hardware is what caused Apple to lose market share. Especially since most Apple home users never open the case, and the design users demand sophisticated hardware, proprietary or not.

    What hurt Apple was that their reliance on proprietary hardware meant that they couldn't increase manufacturing capacity fast enough when it counted. For most of the late-80s and early-90s, demand for Macs outstripped supply (forcing prices up, to the delight of management). When the PC market grew by an order of magnitude, the WinTel parts bin was able to scale up, and Apple wasn't able to build enough custom ASICs and strange motherboard form factors and so on to meet demand.

  • The reason why the DOJ doesnt just prove past conduct is simple - the Shermann Act is about protecting _future_ competition, so the plaintiff has to show that substantial harm is done to the marketplace _as we speak_, otherwise the court will not grant any effective remedies. There are no US laws that protect companies against _past_ (Shermann-type, federal) antitrust violations, unfortunately. To be frank, if US (federal) antitrust laws were just a little bit weaker, they would be nonexistent. No wonder it has only been tried 3 times in 70 years previously, and actually executed only once.
  • Just in case anyone wants to check out the Shermann Act, prosecuted by the DOJ, it can be read here [].
  • I continue to be amazed at the cavalier tendency of /.ers to propose punishments for Microsoft with little regard for Micrsoft's rights, little sense of proportion, and no consideration to the long-term effects of their proposals.

    Even if we accept that Microsoft is guilty as sin and deserves anything we give them, "regulating Windows as an essential utility" is a terrible idea. Government regulations tend to be immortal, and they tend to protect their own interests. The moment the government nationalizes Windows, that will mean the end of Windows as a useful OS. Now I realize that a lot of /.ers would be thrilled at this prospect, but the fact is that a lot of people still rely on Windows to do things that they couldn't otherwise do. Imagine an OS that was as user-friendly and well-maintained as other "regulated monopolies" like phone and electrical services.

    As long as Microsoft has the freedom to design its own product, there is a chance that they will clean up their act and produce better software. And as long as we have a free market, Microsoft *will* pay for producing crappy software-- Linux, Mac OS, Be, or some other OS will take market share. All the "unfair practices" in the world cannot stop people from buying alternative products, and as soon as enough people do this, OEM's will start selling computers pre-installed with that OS. However, if Operating Systems become "essential utilities," then a regulated Microsoft will be able to bellyache about "unfair competition" from unregulated competitors like Apple and Linux. The government will then likely want to "level the playing field" by regulating other OS's as well. I think we can all agree that that would be a bad thing.

    Some people will protest that this is not what they are advocating, and that they only want to regulate the monopolistic companies. But that's not how governments work. Government officials like power, and the moment you give them a little bit of power, they start pushing for more. You *can't* just regulate the bad businesses. If you want the government to regulate Microsoft, you have to accept the risk that the government will impose the same regulations on others in the computer industry.

    And government regulations seldom benefit the little guy. Think about it: policies are typically determined by lobbying efforts, and who can hire more lobbyists than Microsoft? The result will be that the "Microsoft regulatory commision" will be transformed from an organization designed to limit Microsoft into one that helps Microsoft keep new entrants out.

    Microsoft has broken an obscure law whose definitions change on a yearly basis. They are doing things that, while they are certainly sleazy and underhanded, have never been considered illegal. Antitrust law is so vague and overreaching that pretty much any action by a large corporation can be considered to be "anticompetitive" or "in restraint of trade." Perhaps they need to be punished, but an action as drastic as splitting them up and then turning them into a regulated monopoly is not called for. I don't think they have done anything wrong, but even accepting that they did, many of the solutions proposed are excessive.
  • I see your logic, but I'd need proof that it's actually the case. Especially for server machines that are as likely to have NetWare (etc.) on them as anything else.

    Don't forget Dell is selling into the most price-insensitive part of the Linux market -- the group of people that don't want 'free' or '$2' or '$50 retail box' and instead want preinstallation, integration, and support. (Think of the IT manager watching his $100/hour Unix contractor tabbing through the RedHat install. Dell's cheaper than that.)

    I can see why Dell would soak these people for an extra $100 to help finance all of the internal changes necessary to support Linux (sales, accounting systems, testing, training, and so on.)
  • by Hwatzu ( 89518 ) on Saturday September 11, 1999 @08:57AM (#1689430)
    I wrote this in February, but it's been languishing on my HDD ever since. Considering the impending decision by Judge Jackson, I thought I'd share this with you all. Enjoy this li'l parody. (Or not. :) )

    "I'm just a Bill"

    Original lyrics: Dave Frishberg
    Satiric lyrics: David McGrath

    BOY: Whew! You sure gotta go through a lotta hoops to return Windows for a refund, especially here in Redmond! Hey, I wonder who that sad little nerd is...

    NERD: I'm just a Bill,
    Yes, I'm only a Bill,
    And I'm sitting here in my office still,
    'cause it's a long, long journey
    To the capital city,
    It's a long, long wait,
    Hopin' the government takes pity
    But I know they'll let me make more money someday...
    At least I hope and pray that they will,
    But today I'm still just a Bill.

    BOY: Geez, Bill, you certainly don't have much patience or modesty.

    NERD: Well, I got *this* far. When I started, I wasn't even well-to-do! I was just a thief. Some folks back in Dartmouth College wrote this neat programming language called BASIC. I fished it out of the trash, added a few minor things, and pretended it was my own. I told them, "Free software's a bad idea. There ought to be a law!" And someone sat down and wrote a law against piracy, and commercial software became popular, and that's how I became Bill. And I'll remain a Bill until they decide to throw out this silly court thing.

    I'm just a Bill,
    Yes I'm only a Bill,
    I'd go to D.C. but I lack the will.
    Well now my company's stuck in court
    And I sit here and subvocally cuss
    While a few expensive lawyers
    Debate and discuss
    Whether they should
    Let my company go free...
    Oh how I hope and pray that they will,
    But today I am still just a Bill.

    BOY: Listen to those lawyers arguing! Is all that debate and discussion about your company?

    NERD: Hey now, it's not my company, I'm just the CEO!, I hope my lawyers win, otherwise I may die.

    BOY: Die?

    NERD: Well, be forced to pay lots of money, but it's the same thing. Oooh! We managed to confuse the judge into missing some of the tricks we tried. Looks like we won't have to go to the Court of Appeals after all.

    BOY: But what if you had to?

    NERD: Then I'd appeal when this is all over, and the whole trial starts all over again.

    BOY: Oh, no!

    NERD: Oh, yes!

    I'm just a Bill,
    Yes I'm only a Bill,
    And if my lawyers get me off in the trial,
    Well then I'm off to make software
    And people will wait in rows
    With a lot of other people
    Who're willing to pay through the nose
    And don't know 'bout Macs, Linux or BSD...
    Oh, how I hope and pray that they will,
    But today I am still just a Bill.

    BOY: Wait a minute. You mean people don't *have* to buy your products to run my computer? See yuh! I'm going to have to do some research!

    NERD: Hey hey hey, get back here! Yes, that's called "choice." If a majority of people stop purchasing programs we make or co-opt, and especially if we lose this case, I'll have to cough up lots of money to keep my company solvent, and I might have to actually start working for a living.

    BOY: And by that time, it's very unlikely that you'll ever *become* rich. Gee, it's not easy to be a ruthless multi-billionaire if you aren't allowed to fool and force people into buying your shoddy software, is it?

    NERD: No! But how I hope and I pray that I will,
    But today I am still just a Bill!

    LAWYER: We bribed the judge, Bill! Now you're free to *cough* innovate!

    NERD: Oh yes!

  • As much as I'd like to say otherwise, I really don't see Linux or anything else as being trully viable competitition to Microsoft in the mainstream business market. This is mainly because Microsoft also own Office, which has become the de facto standard in terms of productivity applications.

    I often have to exchange files with people from outside of my company, and therefore need to use MS Office in order to do so. Because of the recent overhaul to MS Office 2000 and a change in file formats, even Office 98 for the Mac is no longer fully sufficient. It's startling to realize how lazy and even dumb some office workers are, when you have to request not once but repeatedly that you need the file saved as Office 97 compatible, not 2000... So many people don't get it.

    Linux lacks an easy to use desktop database, a la Access and/or Filemaker... Yes, they're on their way, but they're not here yet.

    Because Windows is so entrechened in the work place (because MSFT won't port their software anywhere beyond windows, even though they've got more than enough resources to do so), people naturally buy Windows PC's for home. When a child is getting their first computer, their parents buy them a Windows PC so they'll learn what they'll use latar in life at work.

    It won't be until Linux has gathered ALL the things that make windows so attractive to both users and developers that it will pose much appeal beyond the faithful, the server closet, and the power-user.

    That's not the case today, i don't think. It won't be the case 18 months from now if Microsoft continues in their activities unfettered. If the case is dismissed, watch every OEM backtrack on their commitments to Linux in fear of retaliation.
  • In order to protect society, the court should now order that
    Micros~1 be split up, and that Windows be regulated as an essential utility.

    an essential utility?
  • Office2000 saved documents can be read just fine from Office97 (at least word and excel documents).
    Please don't spread FUD like this, or if this isn't FUD, please research a little more next time.
  • What's so bad about this? And it's a four step affair.
    make clean; make zlilo; make modules; make modules_install
    If you can't understand this procedure, you are either too stupid to compile kernels, or just not interested enough, in which case you shouldn't be compiling kernels, you should be getting them from your distributor. That's what distributions are for.
  • Let's see how low I can get moderated...

    First off, one has been able to buy a personal computer without Windows or MSDOS on it since...umm...personal computers came out. Choices included Apple, Amiga, Commadore, etc. The entire time, you could (for example) buy something from Apple. It did not, does not, and will not (hopefully) ever come with Windows or MS-DOS installed. Hell, you could of gotten OS/2 from IBM.

    What you could not buy -- and still can not buy -- is a Windows-based PC without Windows. Nor will you ever be able to. Because that simply does not make sense.

    If Compaq decides they want to sell only Windows-based PC's, that's their choice. It's their money they're using to make them. If you don't like it, don't buy from Compaq.

    If MicroSoft says that if you want to sell Windows, you can sell nothing else, fine. Windows is their product. Their property. Just as I have no obligation to invite you to my home except on my terms -- to my property -- MicroSoft has no obligation to sell Windows except on their terms. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

    If MicroSoft wants to include Internet Explorer with Windows, fine. Windows is MicroSoft's property. So is IE. They may do with them what they want.

    Neither you nor you and any number of others (e.g., government) have any right whatsoever to force me to build a PC the way you want it. You may build one yourself and install whatever you like. You may pay your local hacker to build one for you. And you can install Linux or BSD or whatever ylou want on it -- provided you can obtain a copy.

    What does this teach us? If we lie, cheat, and steal to get our wealth, do we have a right to keep it?

    Yes, that's absolutely what a victory for the Justice department would teach us. The United States federal government (and just about all governments) steal (though they call it 'taxes') to get wealth. They produce nothing, yet claim anything they want. If life is a game, that is for sure cheating. Further, I can think of no larger group of liars than one finds on Capital Hill.

    I, personally, avoid MicroSoft products, because all and all, they're ugly, exceedingly complex for the minimal functionality, and crash perpetualy. However, if you want to use Windows, fine.

    If you think there is a demand for non-Windows PC's, then by all means build them and sell them. If you don't think there is a demand, they of course MicroSoft has a monopoly!
  • Every time somebody mentions how to compile a kernel it's different - perhaps that's part of the problem. I've never seen your 4-step sequence mentioned before. The ones I've seen all include "make config" and "make zImage" or "make bzImage" as two of the steps.
  • If Bill is just about increasing his holding and $ then why is he going to give pretty much all of it away? Doesnt sound like somebody who just wants money for money.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    1. Is the US really going to hurt their stranglehold on the international software market, by attacking MS?

    2. If /I/ were to go into a court, and be found to have produced BLATANTLY FAKED EVIDENCE (the videos, remember?) I'd be thrown _very, very quickly_ into jail... And yet, people (O.K. mainly microsoft spin machines) still question Ms's guilt. Money talks. If MS wasn't so rich, the case would be over by now.
  • If linux wasn't around, microsoft will find some other operating system or product that they would try and pass of as competition. It is clear that microsoft have now got their backs to the wall when the issue of "competition" crops up. For example, microsoft would say that AOL is competition... despite they don't have an operating system. What I could never understand is how microsoft and others could say "but there is competition" pointing at the take over of netscape by AOL. Neither of the two companies made operating systems, office applications etc. At the moment, on the desktop, linux is no competition, there's not enough people using it... there is something like 0.2% of people using linux to browse the internet.. not much competition is it... yet.
  • and as most of us know when you split one highly succesful company up into several small ones, the value of that stock will sky rocket. he'll be richer. if thats possible.


  • ... in case they found M$ guilty (as IMHO they are):

    force M$ to publish and document any API and file format which relates to something they have monopoly in (i.e. windows API, office suite file formats, ...).

    such solution should be far easier to control and also did not deny M$' "right to inovate".

    on the other hand, breaking M$ can make havoc above their customers and can result in making the situation no better than now.

  • It's not just that there is a lack of alternatives, but that Microsoft makes a concerted effort to squelch them, by FUD (which pretty much amounts to libel or slander, at least in terms of intent), by withholding bug fixes, by hiding some of their APIs from software makers so that Microsoft software runs better on Windows than their competitors' software, and by veiled threats. It's not just that Microsoft has big marketshare, but that it has tight control of many parts of the computer market, especially the desktop. That's waht makes Microsoft effectively a monopoly.
  • Ok, I'm not advocating any increase in government power or ability to regulate. It's true that we 'd rather need to go the other way.

    However, there's one thing we forget here. Micros~1's billions are implicitly built on government willingness to enforce copyrights (across the world). Now we can see where all of this copyright enforcement - I admit, rather unexpectedly, has led to.

    If I'm now looking at the government to solve this problem, it's because, to a large extent, they created the problem in the first place.

    I also believe that the original spirit of copyright and patent laws was to protect the weak, the inventors and writers. It is obviously the case that the modern "writers", the software companies, are not weak any longer and are getting too much protection. The way Micros~1 used its copyrights (and the threat of government assistance in enforcing them) proves that we must reduce these rights drastically. For example, the system in which Micros~1 makes PC-makers pay for each CPU they ship, regardless whether they are shipping the CPU with Windows, should be outlawed straight away. There should be a provision in the copyright laws that prohibits this kind of practices, and we should add more and more restrictions, as we see that companies abuse copyright laws.

  • Splitting up Microsoft seems to be the most favoured option, but while that'll stick it to Bill, I can't see it doing anything to encourage MS to move towards the light side.

    How will that stick it to Bill? Bill is all about the almighty dollar. He could give a shit about technology, or about market trends, all he cares about is increasing his holdings.

    That said, if he's, say, 10% holder (I honestly don't remember his percentage, so it's just a number for discussion purposes) of MSFT, then if MSFT gets split up, he's a 10% holder of ALL the babies. He may not be permitted by the agreement to hold positions of power, titles, executive offices, etc. in those new companies, but the stock he holds will get split as well.

    Splitting them up is a great idea, but let's not wax philosophic about what it will do for Bill. Bill will make out like a bandit because that'll give him large holdings in SEVERAL companies instead of just one. :)

  • Uhhh... Read Slashdot or ANY technology news lately?

    Sun just released a free office suite that reads and writes Office files. This product runs on Linux, as well as Windows.

    I think with all of this free Office software out there that will read/write the older Office formats, there will be more standardization on the older formats. I would also expect to see conversion from the new Office formats soon.

    Another thing to consider is the fact that Office 2000 is distinctly underwhelming in it's new feature list.

    The home PC market is nearly saturated, or if not saturated, that's not where the big growth is. The big growth is in Internet applications and appliances. Linux has a huge growth potential here.

    Linux will also seriously be cutting into Windows NT Server deployments, which is where MS makes a lot of their money.

    Here's a news flash for the people who seem to be saying "Microsoft is invincible, just wait and watch." Microsoft is in financial trouble. Sure, they made $4.5 Billion last year. They paid, on paper, $18 Billion in stock options. If any of the above forces begin to cut into their stock price or futures, look for a huge cashing-in of those options that could bankrupt the company.

    A point that a lot of people are missing from the original Comment that started this thread. It's not because the DOJ has had MS in court that MS has been in trouble. It's because MS has had to "play nice" during this period that has MS in trouble. When MS stops with the anti-competitive practices (bundling, dumping, buying out small competitors, etc.) they suddenly have problems.

    While those who have a vested stake in the Microsoft status quo are hoping against hope for a favorable outcome in court, almost no serious observer believes that Microsoft won't lose and lose badly.

    If the case is dismissed, watch every OEM backtrack on their commitments to Linux in fear of retaliation.

    You give the reason yourself why Microsoft will lose in court. EVERYBODY knows that Microsoft used illegal tactics to make absolutely certain that there was no competition in the OS arena, and the DOJ has proved this in court.

  • At another point he appeard to be falling asleep.

    But where's the evidence of that? Other than what the news papers have reported.

    Like you said yourself, reading the reports will give a skewed view ;-)

  • Didn't Apple make the same mistake when IBM was just a start-up company? Thinking there was still lots of business in the mainframe market while IBM dove for the PC market and became the standard, leaving Apple to content themselves with being second best?

    Yeah, Apple's moves around 1911 were horrible, and really hurt the company. I know my great-grandfather got hit pretty bad for investing in Apple stock around that time.

    They should have opened up their Abacus design and allowed clones, but no...

    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • haw can you explain to me the fact, that bad MS' technologies (bad technologicaly, bad in usability, bad in price) have suceeds?

    technologies like:
    - MS windows 3.1 - MS DOS GUI priced as whole OS
    - MS windows 95 - 32 bin GUI over 16 bit OS - MS windows 98 - more bloated w95; someone can also point out "overpriced win95 bug-fix"
    - MS windows NT - 32 bit OS still mostly functioning using FAT from good old DOS (see recent CNET's article - sorry, do not have URL) which is not very secure and/or stable even on native NTFS
    - MS windows 2000: some branches are just more bloated windows9X, some branches are just more bloated windows NT with far more "features" which masquerades underlaying bugs (like automatic repair); not mentioning licensing issues (does not we alredy pay them enought for BETA software to at least receive just w2k at some more reasonable price?)
    - new MS' digital music file format - cracked few days after release - MS Office - interoperability with other office packages at almost 0 level (not 0 mostly thanks to support of proprietary MS office format in other offices (and mostly reverse engineered))
    - ...

    the only explanation to me is: MS have monopoly in computer market.

    you argued about "which market": well, i think the whole computer market. why? people are making markets (they are key elements of them; when there are no people, there is no market). thus if almost all people think that MS windows + office = computer i consider it MS has monopoly in computer market.
    (did you ever try for example to explain to "comon user" the diference between PC and windows? did you ever convince such "common user" to use something else to just turn lights on/off in his office than PC+windows if the lights have label "can be controled by computer"? ...)

  • Market cap means nothing in context of this argument. Redhat's valuation is based on the fact that ONE DAY linux could pose a serious challenge to desktop windows. Just like Amazon's and EBay's market caps... They're not based on what they're worth today, its what people hope they'll be worth tomoroow.

    $$$ sales mean much more, which Redhat lacks.

    Given that RHAT's product is free to copy and download, we'll go by seats it's installed on and still conclude that it's a far cry from actual competition for Microsoft today. Tomorrow could be a whole other issue, but we haven't gotten to tomorrow yet.

    One day at a time (and no, if you're curious, I'm not in recovery, or anything! :)
  • Well, it's difficult to purchase a PC without windows, because, in all honesty, up until this year MAYBE, there hasn't been a viable alternative for OEM's to install.

    Funny that in Germany IBM was able to get just a couple of OEMs to preinstall OS/2 and OS/2 today is still very popular in Germany. There has been competition in OS/2, Netscape, Java, and others but MSFT has the ability to threaten anyone who doesn't play the 'Windows everywhere' tune. Linux and OSS is confusing the hell out of MSFT and that is the only reason why it hasn't been squashed. They are trying (Mindcraft...).

    When you say there hasn't been any competition you might want to look a bit deeper. How do you like the fact that MSFT has to pay people (AT&T, TCI) to use WinCE. A product they have spent $$$ developing and yet again, choice is being eliminated as one monopoly is buying its way into creating another monopoly.

    In my opinion, we might have slightly higher software costs if we had 2 or more dominant OS's to chose from but we would have far better application interoperability among diverse products. All those companies with crossplatform C++ frameworks would still exist today and it wouldn't be MSFT tools verses the fringe. Technologies like OpenDoc would be standard and computing would more then installing another MSFT OS or office suite or bug fix month after month. IMHO

  • question:
    why there is (almost) no demand for non windows PCs?

    i would prefer people solve theire problems themselves (like you and me "solved" MS problem by avoiding theire products) but (at least in coputer industry, but as i'm seeing TV commercials, in other markets and even in other things than markets too) people can't solve theire problems because they do know nothing about problem (sometimes they even do not know they have problem).

    i personaly fight such problems speading information and my opinions but that's not always enought.
    and i'm doing it not only to help others but also to help myself to get rid of such stuff.

    that's why i'm awaiting some solution from mentioned case. maybe i'm too optimistic to think that politicians and lawyers can solve technological problem (yes, MS "monopoly" is technological problem for me, because thanks to this monopoly a lot of wonderfull technologies did not make it into market at all). but i think that MS compromised itself quite enought the way even suits understands that they [MS] are The Bad Guys (tm)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    >Well, it's difficult to purchase a PC without
    >windows, because, in all honesty, up until this
    >year MAYBE, there hasn't been a viable
    >alternative for OEM's to install.

    What about no operating system installed?

    Don't say that the OEMs need to install Windows to test the hardware; There are self-booting floppies that do this job.

    There is demand for systems with no OS, for some reason or another some people already have a spare OS license. Selling a machine without an OS lowers the cost by >$60, which would look nice in the newspaper ads where they already sell computers without monitors. Stores will already swap and/or remove just about any part the customer requests if it will sell a computer except for the OS. The explanation that makes the most sense is the one that people get when they call up the OEMs and ask if they can get another system or no OS installed:

    "Sorry, we can't do that. We have a contract with Microsoft."
  • Secondly, Microsoft isn't legally a monopoly in the first place. Lets not change the definition of a monopoly just because we hate Microsoft. A 90% market share alone does not make a monopoly--you have a control entry into the market place, for one. This means that you can block other people from entering the market.

    Sorry, that's not the legal definition of a Monopoly. The ability to control prices makes a Monopoly.
  • Remember, 70% of all Internet servers, for example, are Apache (OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE!)
    and that means they are running either Unix or one of its various clones.

    Just because your running Apache doesn't mean you're running a *NIX. I use a version of Apache
    that runs on NT at work.
  • Every time somebody mentions how to compile a kernel it's different - perhaps that's part of the problem.

    what problem? if you are compiling kernel, you can mak it as /usr/src/linux/README sugests:
    make {config,manuconfig,xconfig,oldconfig} (depends on what you prefer and need)
    make dep
    make {zImabe,bzImage,zdisk,zlilo} (depends on whether you want boot disk or normal kernel and how big will be that kernel)
    make modules (if you want modules)
    make modules_install (-"-)
    some other steps (like vi /etc/lilo.conf; lilo, etc.)

    if you know what you are doing and if you are doing something not that commnon as described in mentioned README, you can do a lot diferent steps in order to make kernel

  • 'This did in some way "bail Apple out" in that it lent Apple some badly needed credibility...' + ' is a misinterpretation of the facts to say that "Microsoft bailed Apple out"' = NON SEQUITUR;

    Either it did or it didn't. FWIW, I think, since (by your own admission) the MS actions helped (re-)legitimize Apple in the eyes of the public and thus jerked Apple's cojones out of the fire, it was in fact a bailout. No, the money itself didn't mean a whole lot; however, the PR value of what was done with the money did.


    Zontar The Mindless,

  • you are right.


    if the case is about present (side question: presnet meant by case start date or present by right now?) situation, then MS can be found innocent.
    if the case is about past, then MS should be found guilty.

    that's the diference mentioned by Evro.

    also i have to express that i think MS will kill itself. it just takes IMHO too much time (about 5 years).

  • No one has began to touch Windows on the corporate desktop. These systems (and all the work-at-home machines) are still willingly locked-in to the Microsoft monopoly by their owners.

    like (some) apes are locked to trees?


    sorry folks ...

  • Remember, 70% of all Internet servers, for example, are Apache (OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE!) and that means they are running either Unix or one of its various clones.
    Not necessarily. I'm running Apache 1.3.9 on a Windows box right now. (It's strictly a testbed, not connected to the Net or anything, btw. ) Downloaded the binaries from, didn't even have to compile.


    Zontar The Mindless,

  • by CocaCola ( 30016 ) on Saturday September 11, 1999 @05:13AM (#1689467)
    The full text of the DOJ filing can be seen here [], the Microsoft filing can be seen here [].
    At first glance the DOJ filing is a well-constructed set of arguments based on the evidence presented during the trial, the Microsoft one is full of anti-government rhetoric and outright contradictions. YMMV though.
  • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalker AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday September 11, 1999 @05:24AM (#1689468) Journal
    A crime is a crime. One isn't free from justice for their past crimes just because they changed their ways, (or not given a chance to commit many new crimes). Generally once a trial begins usually what facts and evidence exist at the beginning of the trial are the facts used throughout the trial.
  • I think when this trial is over no matter what the outcome is, you will see the press shut up about linux.. then watch win2K get hyped with new features that make it proprietary... and just like that... they reclaime thier monopoly.

    I think the monopoly is just on hold right now...
  • "A Microsoft attorney said the company will point to the remarkable financial success of Red Hat Inc., a leading vendor of the upstart Linux software operating system."

    Too bad Red Hat went public looong after the antitrust suit was actually filed. Isn't this a bit late in the game to point to current trends? As much as we'd like to change the past..

    "An economist who testified for the Justice Department, Franklin Fisher, had dismissed as ``a joke, of course'' the potential threat that Linux posed to the market dominance of Microsoft's Windows software."

    Nice to know that people who testify for the DOJ don't watch the news.

    "The Microsoft lawyer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the company will tell the judge it believes Linux to be ``real competition.''"

    I'd want to remain anonymous too after all the hoopla associated with Bill Gates' insistence that Linux isn't a threat.. not to mention the backing of several of his other yes-men. Nice to know that at least one person has some sense amidst that pack of utter liars.

    "The Justice Department has argued that Linux has been successful challenging Microsoft in the sale of high-end business ``server'' computers, not consumer machines."

    Not for long, baby. Once the hardware manufacturers realize that, then I'll be happy. I think it's absurd that IBM is taking a "wait and see" stance with regards to Linux PCs. Didn't Apple make the same mistake when IBM was just a start-up company? Thinking there was still lots of business in the mainframe market while IBM dove for the PC market and became the standard, leaving Apple to content themselves with being second best? Also, it's remarkable how many people say Linux has "a steep learning curve". I'm not sure how many people are aware of this, but among the average human, -Windows- has a steep learning curve (not to mention computers in general).

    "And Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was quoted in earlier evidence in the trial as saying at a technology conference this spring that Linux's impact ``will be fairly limited'' and that he's never had a customer mention Linux to him."

    I don't think Bill even listens to his customers, so of course he never heard them mention much of anything.. Or else maybe he'd take the hint that people don't like it when their system "develops random features". I'm sure he thinks it's "cute", however.

    "Microsoft also was expected to cite an announcement just days ago by rival Sun Microsystems Inc. that it has begun distributing free on the Internet a package of business applications meant to compete with Microsoft's Office software."

    Now this is even sillier.. Who in their right mind is really afraid of Sun Microsystems or anything they have to offer? Perhaps in time their stuff will be good (they certainly have some nice concepts.. but in a business, you need more than just a bunch of "idea men" and loony ad campaigns), but for now Java and its associated hype goes a long way to prove how immature they and their products still are.

    As a side note, anyone who thinks Sun is "really cool" and not just another corporate entity that has absurd notions of, well, just about everything, feel free to peruse these terms [], which you must agree to if you want to post one of their logos on your site.. even if its simply as a supporter of Sun's technology. This stuff is pretty wild..

  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Saturday September 11, 1999 @05:33AM (#1689473) Homepage Journal
    I couldn't have said it better myself. Before the DOJ sued them, a person *could not* buy a personal computer without MSDOS (or IBM's branding of MSDOS) on it. Now that Microsoft has scortched the earth with its monopoly and we are fighting back, it claims there is competition. Was it fair that all the innovative software startups be pushed out and bought out, leaving Microsoft to aquire the remaining marketshare and patent rights?

    What does this teach us? If we lie, cheat, and steal to get our wealth, do we have a right to keep it?
  • Every now and then, I slip into a conspiracy frame of mind and have this thought: What if Microsoft (or at least elements inside of MS) wants to be broken up? The company has clearly hit a wall in terms of the exponential growth of billg's net worth. It's hard to imagine that the stock price can continue to grow at anything approaching the rate of the last few years. But what if Microsoft was broken up? Doesn't this solve several problems at once? The resulting baby bills (bbs) could change their names (reducing the stigma that the MS name increasingly carries). They could focus on profits more tightly, without taking the other bbs into account. They could pare down the amount of infighting that surely occupies significant resources at today's MS. There would be opportunities for downsizing. At least in the short term, Wall Street would probably love it.

    But then, I hear things like the Ballmer "Web Office" announcement and realize that no, this is still the same stupid, bandwagon-jumping MS we've come to know and, well, know. It's disheartening to me -- I confess, I'm in that minority of /. readers that actually enjoys quite a few of the MS products -- to see how MS has been reacting to recent "threats" against it. Rather than learn from what's going on, they seem to have chosed to retrench and even to move backwards.

  • back when this whole mircosoft-in-court fiasco started, I was really excited about the prospect of finally seeing a possibility that perhaps microsoft would someday have real competition in the computer marketplace, and that other operating systems and productivity suites might start gaining the market share that microsoft's unfair business tactics were keeping from better software.

    now that the trial is over, the entire climate seems to have changed. no longer is NT the only option for people who wear ties to work; more and more frequently, these people are doing research and finding that maybe the microsoft solution wont work as well as other possible solutions. apple isnt currently taking on intel head-to-head in any meaningful way, but they're making some new machines, and with IBM's release of their PPC motherboard specs, it looks like intel might not be the only real game in town for very long.

    in short, I dont really even care what the outcome of this trial is. the trial sparked a lot of negative press for microsoft, and I'm glad that happened, because years down the road, that might be the only real consequence of this trial. dont look for the government to break up microsoft, because the legal system is too slow and too full of loopholes for that to happen.

    and dont gloat prematurely about the breakup/fall of microsoft. instead be happy that we have made great strides since the start of the trial and hope for more progress in the future.
  • Have a look at OS sales and one thing should be very, very clear: end-users aren't driving this bus. Total retail OS sales are 'way down in the noise because the OS that runs on nearly every machine is the one loaded onto it at the factory.
    The market for operating systems is the OEM preload market.
    Now in that context, how much competition is there? Ask yourself what would happen if Microsoft had told (e.g.) Compaq in 1996 that they could only have Windows at full retail price. Could Compaq have substituted a "competitor's" operating system?
    If you look at the actual dynamics of the industry, end-users aren't the consumers. As with TV, they're the product. Microsoft offers Dell, Compaq, and the rest access to us the same way that NBC delivers consumers to General Motors.
  • First of all, if Microsoft wins the case, this will be a vindication for Linux! This will mean that yes, Virginia, Linux IS competition for Microsoft. Is that such a bad thing? I don't think so. It means that Linux will actually be viewed as a legitimate alternative to Windows NT by even more people than before. That in and of itself is a Good Thing (tm).

    Secondly, Microsoft isn't legally a monopoly in the first place. Lets not change the definition of a monopoly just because we hate Microsoft. A 90% market share alone does not make a monopoly--you have a control entry into the market place, for one. This means that you can block other people from entering the market. Microsoft can't really do that: that can't (and haven't) stopped Linux, Be, etc. from making their own OSes.

    And the 90% marketshare applies ONLY to desktops--Windows NT is actually a MINORITY in the server market. Remember, 70% of all Internet servers, for example, are Apache (OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE!) and that means they are running either Unix or one of its various clones. Even in LANs, Novell and Unix beat MS hands down.

    Finally, if Microsoft IS punished, this could be a nightmare for the industry. One, it means that the industry will have to be VERY careful about innovations, because they will have to be looking over their shoulders to make sure the DOJ isn't there watching their every move. Declaring the browser as part of the operating system isn't that farfetched--including Netscape on the Caldera distribution for instance, with a Caldera logo on it no less, is practically the same thing.

    Look at from a car perspective: if the DOJ says that MS can't bundle IE with Windows, how much of a stretch is it to say DaimlerChrysler or General Motors can't bundle, say, an Infiniti sound system with their cars? Isn't bundling a stereo with a car hurting the aftermarket stereo folks? Afterall, the DOJs main argument is that MS is hurting competition by bundling a Web browser with its OS. The browser may be inferior to the alternatives, but so is the stereo. By all arguements against Microsoft, the fact that it is bundled alone will prevent people from buying someone else's browser. This is also true for the stereo. Most people do not add aftermarket stereos to their new cars. But some people do, particularly those who are knowledgeable about audio and want audio perfection.

    Also, if the DOJ breaks up Microsoft, 2 or 3 Baby Bills will be MORE of a nightmare than one Microsoft. Imagine fighting not one, but now THREE Microsofts. No thank you.

  • Doesen't it seem odd to you that the only significant "competition" being cited is a system being given away for free? How is it a competitive environment when one company can sell its product for real bucks and everybody else has to give theirs away and make money on packaging and service, or get squeezed out?

    Isn't it "harm" that Netscape had to stop selling its browser and start giving it away to keep Microsoft from taking over the browser market? Isn't $0/copy the limiting case of a cross-subsidy?

  • You forgot "make clean" and "make install" and whatnot. When compiling a kernel is a 5+ step affair, things are not good.
  • Yes, but the classic definition is a free market, with zero cost of entry, zero cost of information, all information available to all participants, and in which no contracts can be made that impinge upon these.

    Like we have ever had that.

    The only thing that has been changing is that cost of information and availability of information are improving - but they're not free, just cheaper.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ..on the desktop, yet. On the server side, it's pretty good, since anyone installing a server is (usually) competent enough to install linux.

    But, where I work, I distributed 5 RedHat 6.0 cd's to my co-employees, and all tried installing it at home. Only one person liked it and was excited by it, and continues to use it.

    The other four switched back to Windows 98, citing that Linux was "too hard to setup and use".

    The stunning part is that all five have degrees in computer science, and write C/C++ on Unix machines for a living.

    Somehow I doubt Linux is much of a threat to Bill Gate's monopoly! At lest not for another couple years.

    Also, remember Microsoft is NOT on trial based on what will happen in the future, but their activities in the past. The "future" of the software market probably plays a much smaller role in the Judge's decision than the past and current markets. Besides, isn't NT use still expanding rapidly?
  • Another /. reader posted a link to the DOJ website here []. I think the DOJ is handling the Linux issue nicely.

    To recap; MS is arguing that Linux poses a serious threat to Windows, due to RedHat and others.

    The DOJ says this doesn't hold water. They quote a number of MS witnesses that all said that Linux isn't currently a threat, but may become one in the future. The DOJ argues that future predictions never have and don't currently make any difference in a trial. The DOJ goes on to say that MS's change of heart contradicts many past sayings by MS, and that their contention is less than honest.

    Furthermore, the DOJ points out that MS increased the price of Windows 95, despite the preceived competition, after Windows 98 was released. This points directly to monopoly power.
  • Yes, Microsoft has ticked off Judge Jackson -- but that can work in their favor. If he makes a decision based on his personal feelings towards the witnesses in the trial, or (more importantly) if Microsoft can introduce reasonable cause to believe that he was biased by any personal opinions towards any of the witnesses, this makes it much easier for them to appeal the case. If Judge Jackson had lost his temper with any of the Microsoft witnesses, Microsoft would probably have moved for a mistrial.

    What I don't understand is this: Microsoft is basing a large part of their defense on the state of the market today. Aren't they on trial for past misdeeds? It sounds like if Judge Jackson decides the market is healthy today, Microsoft will get off free and clear -- what about all of the predatory business practices they've been exercising for the past ten years?

  • It has been argued (quite accurately, IMHO), that the mere fact of the trial has essentially imposed a restriction upon any blatantly anti-competitive practices by Microsoft. As long as they are under the auspices of a trial, and the resulting public scrutiny, they can't make any obvious efforts to quash competition (or perceived competition).

    Given some of the gaffes made by Microsoft during the trial, and Judge Jackson's apparent attitude towards MS, there's a pretty good chance that a guilty verdict will be presented, which Microsoft will certainly appeal.

    I would say that regardless of the punishment proposed in the event of a guilty verdict, it is the verdict itself (and the resultant appeal) that will provide the best short term protection for competition. An appeal would keep the issue public, and impose the same restrictions on potential anti-competitive behaviour as does the current trial. If we just had a guilty verdict, regardless of the actual punishment, it would very shortly leave MS in the position of being able to engage in more anti-competitive behaviour (at least until a subsequent trial).

  • Answer to your question can be found at the main washington post article linked in this story (which many didn't fully read) 5th paragraph from to bottom is: []

    But asking Jackson to take ``judicial notice'' of the industry changes is an unusual legal ploy since the evidentiary record in the trial is officially closed. The judge can recognize these events but can't consider them as evidence because the government wasn't given the opportunity to challenge Microsoft's interpretation of their meaning.
  • Even if Microsoft does lose handily at the District Court level, don't underestimate the significance of the prior Circuit Court reversal of earlier pro-government findings against Microsoft. The appeal will be to the same Circuit Court, perhaps to some of the panelists, but which panelists will be bound by the precedents set forth earlier.

    The bottom line is that the fact findings not only have to be anti-Microsoft for Microsoft to lose, but specifically geared to distinguish the prior case.

    At the end of the day, this could all be mere window dressing if the District Court's opinion is reversed. And then, of course, there is always the Supreme Court, who are not particularly friendly to anti-trust claims these days.

    In other words, while the battle has been joined, and Boies made mincemeat out of Microsoft's legal giants at trial, victory is not certain. But even if the DOJ does prevail, this result will merely be the result of one battle of a larger campaign.

    So watch out for the legal analysis of the fact-findings -- it's not only whether these findings go well for the government, but do they distinguish the prior Circuit court case.
  • SEAL asks:

    But at what percentage do you draw the line?
    As far as I know, the current rule of thumb in antitrust law is 70%. Last I checked, Microsoft controls 90% of the Desktop OS Market.

    And can you prove it was detrimental to consumers?
    The easiest way is to prove that the Windows costs more than it would if Microsoft had no monopoly. The DOJ presented strong evidence of that in the trial. Another way is to show that the product is of an inferior quality then it would be without the monopoly. I think that's pretty obvious too.

    The second definition is more to provent collusion between companies to create a monopoly. For example, if Coke & Pepsi were to arrange a coordinated price hike, so everyone payed more for soda, it would fall under the second definition.

    This is much trickier to prove. It's clear (but tough to prove) that Microsoft and Intel colluded to push consumers into a never ending stream of hardware and software upgrades, hence raising the price (per year) of their products to the detriment of the public. It's clear that Microsoft's OEM arrangements would raise the price of non-Windows machines to the detriment of the public, and the DOJ touched upon this in the trial.

    Yes, the definition of a monopoly does not have much to do with anticompetitive business practices. Where those come in is after a company is declared a monopoly. It is legal for most companies, but illegal for a monopoly, to use all sorts of anticompetitive business pracices. For example, a monopoly can't do bundling (eg IE & Windows, or Windows & DOS for the Caldera case), but other companies can, since they won't be tying one product to a monopolistic product.

    It's clear from the trial that Microsoft is a monopoly, they did things a monopoly is not allowed to do, and they violated the consent decree that allowed them to stop the prior antitrust suit. What's not clear is what punishment will be levelled against Microsoft, and how effective it will be at preventing future abuses. I think they will lose, but after all the appeals courts are done, they'll be left with a slap on the wrist (i.e. a simple monitary fine plus legal costs).

  • by sporty ( 27564 ) on Saturday September 11, 1999 @05:55AM (#1689519) Homepage
    I know this will be ranked downward since people will no doubtedly see this as pro-MS advocacy and anti-linux FUD, but..

    Was there ever real competition? There WAS OS/2 for a brief moment of glory, and DesqView, but as the graphical age came along, Windows won out. Joy, now we have to deal with Windows because it was the 'easiest' thing to use though it wasn't the best.

    Linux those days, I remember running it. It wasn't as great and was more of a hobby for me. It wasn't too difficult to install, but if you didn't have the right hardware, you were cooked. That's why I left linux a while back - lack of support for the NCR53c875. *nix caught up in the PC end and look where it is now. It supports LOTS of different hardwares. When I started using X, it had support for about 23-30 video cards. Now it has support for about 500 cards and their minor variants.

    MS had no competition, not because MS had such a great upper hand, there was nothing else graphical that existed and was well supported. Not to say that nothing was as great, but Windows was more well known and developed for. Too bad it wasn't great for anything but the home market.

    What DID MS have? They had the PC market, but to keep it safe, they performed unfair activities. Of course, they were involved in other unethical buisness practices, such as absorbing the competition. When *nix got as big as it did, MS couldn't do anything to stop it. Who was there to buy? Linus and * Someone else would just continue the projects. PC *nix now more popular than ever, not as easy to use, but works great.

    My verdict? Monopoly by virtue, unethical by practice in maintaining the virtue. Unethical in other practices also.

  • I always find it amazing when people list AOL's purchase of Netscape as anything other than a clear and crushing Microsoft victory. I mean, this was the company that was supposed to change the landscape of the computing world.


  • I surely don't want to see Microsoft or Windows disappear or destroyed, and definitely not now, right away, while so many people depend on it to run their computers.

    Windows is, in my opinion, an essential utility. Of course, the average business user can do all their work as well on MacOS. However, they have an large investment in "implemented" software on Windows. It's absolutely unfeasible to ask them to move this software, and data (often stored in proprietary formats) to another OS. Everyone will need a sufficient span of time to migrate, when a credible alternative comes along.

    APIs, protocols, and data formats have to some extent the similar properties to natural languages. Of course, you can say everything in Spanish. Of course, you don't need English. However, if you spent half your life studying English, and use it every day in running your life, you have a large "implemented investment" in the English language. It will take time and a lot of effort to move to another language.

    MacOS is not that much of a solution that addresses these issues. MacOS requires you to invest, not only in proprietary OS, but also in proprietary hardware. I don't think this is an attractive proposition. It's, beyond any doubt, the main reason why PCs beat Apple in the market, in spite of the fact that Apple technology was quite often more advanced and more user-friendly. Most of us were just not interested, whether Apple was better or not, we just saw what Apple was trying to do with their proprietary hardware.
    Going from Microsoft to Apple is going in exactly the opposite direction as you should go.

Reactor error - core dumped!