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How the DOJ/MS Settlement was Reached 274

Posted by chrisd
from the does-the-doj-run-exchange? dept.
Drek was among the many who wrote in to tell us about the following: "Wired is running an article about how the MS/DoJ settlement was reached. More importantly, the DoJ has set up an email address where citizens can send comments about the case: microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov. This might be a good way for Slashdotters to do their civic duty."The address has been around for a bit, but still, a renewed call for comment.
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How the DOJ/MS Settlement was Reached

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  • That they even are considering our opinions important enough to set up an address for them. Which means they are at least ACKNOWLEDGING some discontent about the decision.
    • by luge (4808) <slashdot@@@tieguy...org> on Friday November 16, 2001 @09:53PM (#2577348) Homepage
      Actually, it's not that they think highly of our opinions but that they're legally required to get community feedback on this type of thing. This was originally intended to make it difficult to allow for pro-environmental decisions and such, but now it's coming around to bite the government on the ass.

      More importantly, they're legally required to respond. As I understand it, every 'valid' email sent to that address /must/ be responded to. Sure, the responses will probably be mostly form emails, but they also have to be forwarded to the judge- who is legally required to consider the public interest when approving the decision. So... it's not completely over yet, and yes, this might actually make a different. So... go and write something thoughtful and coherent about why you feel MS as is significantly impacts your freedom as a consumer, and it might actually make some difference.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        they set up an email address doesn't implicate what you say.
        i think the laws require that they have a 30 day period for citizens to voice their opinions, they, in the light of our tech oriented society, have set up an email address in addition to their faxes, phone #, and addresses...whatever
        • No, it's not an implication... I spoke with some extremely knowledgeable* lawyers about the case last weekend, and what I'm saying is just what they told me.
          *like, directly involved in the case

      • but they also have to be forwarded to the judge- who is legally required to consider the public interest when approving the decision.

        What I always wonder is, in a context like this, what exactly does "consider" mean? It obviously can't mean that the decision has to be entirely determined by the feedback, since that's what the judge is for, but then how much discretion does the judge have? Is there some kind of standard for how much weight should be given to such things? Is there any protection against the judge satisfying the requirement by simply saying "Okay, I considered it."?

        When you were a kid asking your parents for some new toy, how much difference did it really make whether they said "No." or "Hmm. Lemme think about it. No."?

        Did I just write a post in which every unquoted sentence is a question?

        • > What I always wonder is, in a context like this, what exactly does "consider" mean? It obviously can't mean that the decision has to be entirely determined by the feedback, since that's what the judge is for, but then how much discretion does the judge have?

          Simply getting a few thousand messages from people who bluntly state that they think the case was thrown due to political meddling will give the judge -- and administration -- something to think about.

          Hopefully the judge will carefully consider the merits of whatever feedback comes in. The administration will most certainly consider the political fallout.
  • by pi_rules (123171) on Friday November 16, 2001 @09:19PM (#2577248)
    from the does-the-doj-doesn't-run-exchange dept.

    I've been staring at that for a few minutes now... what in the hell were they trying to type?
    • must have been replaced by Eliza. Help!!

      ****
      WARNING: The rest of this poster's comment will be replaced by an automated response:****


      Q:

      I've been staring at that for a few minutes now... what in the hell were they trying to type?

      A:

      And how does the hell were they trying to type make you feel?

  • Silly DoJ, they should've spam-protected their email address.

    • > Silly DoJ, they should've spam-protected their email address.

      The actual address is microsoft.NOSPAM.atr@usdoj.gov. They figured spammers would never think to add "NOSPAM" to an address.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If this weren't Microsoft and 'we all' weren't so zealously seeking its death, how far should a government go in punishing a monopoly for misbehavior?

    Yes, yes, we all want Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer to be burned at the stake and Microsoft to be blown into a million pieces and split among Sun, Oracle, and AOL/Netscape.

    How far should the government go in cases like this? Imagine it was a company whose products you liked.
    • by Capsaicin (412918) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @07:32AM (#2578019)
      If this weren't Microsoft and 'we all' weren't so zealously seeking its death, how far should a government go in punishing a monopoly for misbehavior?

      Yes, but it is Microsoft, and Microsoft has an outrageous monopoly and indulges in outrageous misbehaviour! Turn your question on its head ... If Microsoft were not a misbehaving monopoly, would we be so zealously seeking its death? I think not.

      How far should the government go? As far as it is required to maintain (create) functional competition in the market in which the monopolist misbehaves. That was the original intention of Anti-trust law before Posner et al. emasculated it. If Anti-trust law is now so toothless, that a corporation like Microsoft can't be brought to account by it, it is, IMHO, time to rewrite it.

    • how far should a government go in punishing a monopoly for misbehavior?

      The answer is simple: far enough to prevent them from doing it again

      Imagine it was a company whose products you liked.

      Doesn't matter - if they (blatantly, and repeatedly) broke the law, they should be prevented from doing so again. That's what the law is there for.
  • Does anyone know if and where the public's responses might be posted for public review? Or, will they just be routed directly to Ashcroft's Outlook trashcan by his rules wizard...
  • by Walter Bell (535520) <wcbell@bellaLIONndhorowitz.com minus cat> on Friday November 16, 2001 @09:30PM (#2577282) Homepage
    The Microsoft antitrust case was never about protecting consumers' right to choose. It was never about curbing an illegal, unethical monopoly that tries to extend its control over consumers in every possible way. It was about money.

    The Justice Department used the Microsoft case to increase their own budgets. Republicans and others who supported Microsoft had no problem with increasing funding to the DoJ because more money for the DoJ means more money to enforce laws against drugs, pornography, civil liberties, and other things that conservatives hate. The DoJ was thrilled when David Boies took their case, because they would get to dole out more funding to a very expensive lawyer and take a cut from the middle. Better funding helps everyone in an organization.

    The states had no interest in protecting consumers, either. The states all saw a large antitrust settlement as a gigantic handout - more money from God to drop into the state coffers and spend on pork barrel projects. And since Microsoft has customers in all 50 states, why would any state pass up the opportunity to take part in the windfall? Especially because attorneys general are not elected, so who are they really responsible to?

    The antitrust trial has always been about money, and the interests who participated in the whole circus have made billions of dollars off the taxpaying public from it. It is time for a quick and decisive settlement so that the bleeding of wasted dollars can stop. The government has shown time and again that consumers are defenseless against corporations who break the law and defraud them. This time is no different.

    ~wally
    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday November 16, 2001 @09:55PM (#2577354)

      > It was about money.

      You're right in general, but IMO wrong on the details. For instance, I suspect the various states are less interested in getting a one-time dole out of this than they are in giving their local software industry a boost. This kind of "protectionism" (if you will) helps them bring in jobs (aka "taxes"), catalyzes bribes^w campaign donations from those industries, and gives them something to stir Joe Citizen's patriotism, since at the next election the politicos will point out how they are so dutifully looking out for the interests of Joe Citizen's home state.

      Yeah, it's about money, and the interests of big business. That's not to say that I'm against the suit; I just think it was mostly a case of "the right thing for the wrong reasons", and those wrong reasons is why so many parties were so eager to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Considering that most of the case occurred during the Clinton administration and was initiated by said administration, how does this fit into a Republican "plan" wherein they get enforce laws against things they "hate." Even if they did have a plan, which is debatable, they must be incredibly adept since they got an administration under and opposing party to play right into their plans. Sorry, I just don't see it.
    • Read this.

      http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.03/deepthro at .html

      I agree that there are always moneyed interests pulling strings, but there are also people in responsible positions from time to time who want to do the right thing.

      As far as the whole question of protecting consumers, well, it was consumers who made microsoft what it is. Unthinkingly following the herd often causes this kind of problem. I'm more interested in finding some way to protect the minority that want to innovate, etc. It's nice to say (and true) that we are acting in the interest of consumers, but they're the ones that caused this problem and quite possibly, it is starting to appear now, the only ones who will be able to do anything about it. Don't hold your breath.
  • ahh relief (Score:2, Insightful)

    by imrdkl (302224)
    Regarding the DoJ: they believed would result in the "most effective and certain relief in the most timely manner."

    Just who's relief we talking about here?

    Guide us Landru!

    • I will reply to your sig.

      "Can bin Laden get a fair trial?"

      As fair as any black man accused of drug dealing, any arab accused of terrorism, any poor person occused of anything. Which is to say no.

      Only the rich get fair trials in America.
  • by SideEffects (123663) on Friday November 16, 2001 @09:33PM (#2577287)
    The subject says it all! Spamming this email address with overly anti-Microsoft emails may have the effect of causing intellegent, well thought out emails to be discarded.

    Please, please use your head and point out what you honestly believe the problems are (and back them up with facts when possible). We may be able to make a different here. Let's not screw it up!
  • by DragonPup (302885) on Friday November 16, 2001 @09:34PM (#2577290)
    Web Guy 1: Wow, we got THOUSANDS of emails to the Antitrust email address from citizens over the past hour!

    Web Guy 2: In an hour? Must be spam.

    Web Guy 1: You're probably right

    *Web Guy 1 deletes said few thousand messages*

    -Henry
  • I wonder, has it ever been known to happen that the slashdot effect has been applied to an email address?

    This is obviously going to end up as one huge mailbomb!

    I wonder what mail server they ran...
    • I'm sure we'll be reading about this in the paper later...
      • I'm sure we'll be reading about this in the paper later...

        Oh yeah, I can see it now:
        Sources have confirmed that after the DoJ provided an email address for the public to comment on the antitrust case involving Microsoft Corp (MSFT), the DoJ servers suffered a Denial Of Service Attack, no doubt propagated by those people in against the case. Industry analysts suggest that the DoJ should take this as a sign to drop the case, or risk further attacks.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    As 'a slashdotter', i feel i should know what my 'civic duty' is. it seems like you assume that all of our civic duty is to e-mail them and say "a settlement is bullshit. get em by the balls! they're evil!" but in much more politically correct language.

    if you wanna know what i think, an agreement is great. they did some lame things, but they have some excellent software and hardware, and i have no major anti-microsoft sentiments.
    if you don't, then at least dig this: when the people that tell the news start telling you what your civic duty is, you gotta look 2x
    • if you wanna know what i think, an agreement is great. they did some lame things, but they have some excellent software and hardware, and i have no major anti-microsoft sentiments.
      if you don't, then at least dig this: when the people that tell the news start telling you what your civic duty is, you gotta look 2x


      Well, first the bit about doing you civic duty was what Drek, who submitted the story, said, not what the Slashdot staff said. That's why it's in quote marks. But, you can still make the point that Slashdot chose to quote it when they didn't have to of course.

      Secondly though, it doesn't tell you that you should be opposed to the settlement. It's implicit in the comment that it's your civic duty to give them your views on the proposed settlement, but there's nothing there as to what your views should be. It's a reasonable assumption that he was expecting many people here to be opposed to the settlement but I don't see how you can take offense at anything he said as implying that you "should" be anti-Microsoft or that you should take any other particular view either.

      Personally I think that if you like the settlement, as apparently you do, then it would be a good thing for you to email the DOJ telling them so and ideally saying why.

      If you don't like them suggesting that trying to help prompt the right outcome (whatever you might think that would be) is a civic duty then, well, it's just someone's opinion, not like they're holding a gun to your head,
  • Even if we were to send email to microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov, do you honestly think they're gonna have some monkey go through all the email they get? Even if they do, it's not going to change anything. A good ploy would be for MS to use this as a "Who likes us and who needs to die" check.

    I say everyone go to all the porn sites they can find and sign the email address "microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov" up for the mailing lists. For creativity, go to some of the off the wall Scheiße sites and sign the email addy up for their lists. That would approximate my feelings anyway.

    • First things first. You, Sir, are a fool and a troll. Yes, I am lowering myself to petty name calling.

      How the hell did that get modded up "interesting"?!?!?! That has got to be one of the DUMBEST courses of action I can possibly think of. Perhaps the post was intended to be "funny", but it's just not (IMHO).

      Do you have any idea what a bad idea that is? Do you want to give the gov a reason to stop reaching out AT ALL, even in small ways?

      For further reference, please refer to my other post [slashdot.org] to someone talking a similar game.

      This is patently absurd, but mostly for the fact that that comment got modded up "interesting". Jesus K. Christ, what the hell? I'll probably lose karma for all my shouting on this topic, but I don't freaking care. I feel very strongly about this!

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Please don't do that. As someone who lost a position due to a product being cancelled because Microsoft informed the vendor that the product would be considered part of the operating system and removed like a virus if detected, I'd like to have a prayer of having that tale of woe read. Much less chance of that if it's buried in porn spam.
  • from the article:


    The government also sought in its court filing to clarify key provisions surrounding the secrecy of Microsoft's technology to prevent consumers from making illegal copies of music or movies. Part of the settlement allows Microsoft to keep secret any information that might violate the security of such anti-piracy technology, and critics charged that Microsoft might use the exemption to hide details about many of its products.

    But the government told the judge that Microsoft must disclose to competitors all the capabilities of its anti-piracy music technology under the latest version of Windows, called XP. Microsoft can't use the security exemption as a pretext for broadly keeping details about its software secret, lawyers said.



    I'm no big fan of DRM technology, but the whole premise is that its obscure and heard to interact with. There is no provably secure or correct DRM scheme - all you can do is make the software a pain in the ass to figure out. So by ordering MS to disclose a bunch of stuff on how the DRM works, it probably contributes a great deal to crackability, thus nullifying its use anyway.

    Regardless of your moral/ethical/whatever opinions on DRM, requiring too much info be leaked from the DRM technology utterly invalidates and destroys the usefulness of the DRm technology. Which means MS will just have to think of something else that they _wont_ have to reveal secrets about.
    • Perhaps not so stupid. The most interesting part of your quote is that they (MS) Must Reveal their Crypto.

      All details. Now. Under the threat of strong enforcement provisions.

      Hmm, who wins there?

  • Wow, I think this is probalby a first. Have we, as a community, Slashdotted an e-mail address before? Is this one holding up? What would you guys like to slashdot next? Maybe one of those coke machines at some college that's on the internet. Of course I should probably heed the saying "A closed mouth gathers no foot."
  • Yeah. A few thousand from messages by:

    A. People who don't know anything about law (99.9999% of slashdot).

    B. People who just hate microsoft.

    C. Losers with too much time on their hands, crapflooding the mailbox.

    Yeah..i'm sure they're going to pay a whole lot of attention to the one or two actual decent messages which get through the noise. Good plan kids.

    • People who don't know anything about law (99.9999% of slashdot).

      I'd venture to guess that the Slashdot readership knows much more about law than the public in general. Of course, /.ers don't know about law! That's not what this email address is for... it's not for lawyers to write in; it's for the public at large to express the community opinion on the subject. And I would have to say that /.ers are *significantly* opinionated on this issue.

      --
      Evan

      • sarcasm


        And what a community it is that will write in. Just view the message threads for the delightfully intelligent banter that accompanies postings.


        /sarcasm

        • And what a community it is that will write in. Just view the message threads for the delightfully intelligent banter that accompanies postings.

          We can type. I worked in a courthouse for two years, and the discourse that goes on here is *well* above the general public that the legal system is used to dealing with. I have seen notes for attorneys written in purple pen on the back of sub sandwich wrappers. I have seen black grease smeared torn bits of looseleaf written in pencil handed to the judge. I have also seen nicely laser printed letters on linen weave paper. It's not the method or literacy that the legal system is reviewing - this isn't a friggin' Sophomore English Lit class... these are people trying to say their piece. The message, opaque or emotion laden as it may be, is what is important, and that is what counts.

          Seriously - after having dozens of poor Guatemalians in labor uniforms tell you the truth about how they were beaten, and dozens of nicely dressed businessmen lie about how they took off their glasses just before the cop walked up to the car, you develop a strong ability to seperate content from form. When the hysterically emotional guy is breaking down, it's because he's trying to relate something that is important to him. Judges know that... the legal system deals with it all the time.

          Of course a well written, concise essay on the subject is better - it makes your point much more clear. But even hate mail will get the opinion of the people across... and that is the point of this call for opinion. And I sincerely doubt that the tone of replies that they will recieve for this case will begin to equal any case involving things like the environment, abortion, or prayer in school. As I started out this message, I will end it - we may be ranting loonies, but at least we can type.

          (Have *you* sent an email to them?)

          --
          Evan

    • The law (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bug1 (96678)
      "A. People who don't know anything about law (99.9999% of slashdot)."

      I think when analysing the law, the primary objective of the law should be to implement justice.

      How can we begin to understand the law when it fails so consistently on its primary objective in regard to tech matters.
      The law will probably always be unjust to techies ad its based on precedents going back hundreds of years, a few people will always have to get persecuted before the lawmakers will consider changing a now irrelevent law.

      Why should we try and understand the law when it ignores us and is clueless to make informed descisions.

      To obey a bad law is worse than breaking it.

      The first thing we need to learn about the law is how to evade it, its the only way to get justice... ironic isnt it.
    • You don't have to know a hell of a lot about law to understand when you and your industry is being robbed blind.

      People have damn good reasons to hate Microsoft. They don't generally do it just for the hell of it or because it is the "in" thing.

      Who is the greater loser? Someone who complains about an evil they have experienced for too long even if they can't express themselves as elegantly as you might like or one who puts them down for even opening their mouths as "losers". I would rather have those honestly ticked off whether or elegant or not than someone arrogantly slandering and attempting to silence them.
  • Is it really any surprise that nothing new was stated in the article?

    Here's a link to the DOJ's press release [usdoj.gov] on the settlement. Everyone should try to read it, as well as the actual settlement (if you can find it... links, anyone???)

    Personally, I think the settlement is satisfactory. It addresses the root of the problem and stays (mostly) out of other issues. Microsoft's sin is not in it's products... it's in it's sales and marketing practices. Unless someone can prove that Windows has a secret "Disable third-party software" function, I just don't see the problem.

  • Firstly,The Register ran a story covering much the same info [theregister.co.uk] in a much more entertaining way.


    Secondly, we know how the deal was reached. Microsoft bought the law,
    and the law won. "Don't you know there's a war on?" Someone seems
    to think that MS are an American company, therefore their monopoly is
    actually a GOOD thing because it means American software dominates
    the world. WindowsXP is good for the economy; if you're running Linux
    or BSD, the terrorists are already winning!


    Thirdly, us Europeans are waiting with bated breath to see
    what the EU do [theregister.co.uk]. As (again) The Reg points out,
    there's none of this 'adjourning for a second hearing in the
    consideration of whether to refer the case to another appeal'
    nonsense over here. Let's hope that turns out to be good news
    rather than bad news...


    --

    Carolyn Meinel, Scientific American: "Those computers ran Linux, which
    meant that they could impersonate any other server on the Internet."

    • You're close...
      This is what happened. As a member of the DOJ, I can tell you that things have been rather busy lately. We all know that Christmas is rapidly approaching. To make a long story short, Bill gave us some of those new XBox consoles. He even threw in the full set of release titles and a copy of XP! Now if that's not justice, what is?

      And don't go givin' me your self-righteous BS. You know damn well you'd do the same. We were nearing a settlement anyways. This just sealed the deal.
    • "Don't you know there's a war on?"

      Maybe if congress had declared one...

      This must be one of those fun "police actions."
      • Nothing in the Constitution specifies the form of a declaration of war. And it's hard to see how a Congressional resolution giving blanket authorization to the President to use an unrestricted level of force for an unrestricted period of time against identified enemies can be construed as anything else but a declaration of war.

        (Yes, they were identified by their acts, not by name. It still counts as identification -- the resolution would not cover sending bombers into Argentina, for example.)
  • Some thoughts... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brian Kendig (1959) on Friday November 16, 2001 @10:05PM (#2577384) Homepage
    (1) Microsoft claimed all along that the web browser was a useful application which deserved to be tied to Windows. The crucial question they never answered was: what about Microsoft Word? Everybody uses a word processor; why didn't Microsoft add Word's powerful features into Windows, to benefit consumers in the same way they did by adding Explorer's powerful features to Windows?

    The answer is that Word had no serious competition, so Microsoft was content to sell it separately and to offer a stripped-down word processor ("WordPad") bundled with Windows.

    I've believed all along that a great solution to the tying issue would have been for Microsoft to include a stripped-down basic web browser with Windows, and to sell the full-featured Internet Explorer separately. This would let customers surf the web without buying anything extra, but if they wanted additional features, plenty of competition in the market would give them lots of choices of more-powerful web browsers.

    (2) Microsoft defeated Netscape simply because they had the cash, the resources, and the time to copy every one of Netscape's most important products feature-for-feature, and give it away for free. They rarely got things right on the first try, but by bundling browsers and servers in with Windows and by releasing subsequent versions with more features, it was inevitable that they would eventually match Netscape's quality -- and then it was inevitable that customers would choose the free solution over Netscape's. Many of Netscape's customers still remained loyal, and purchased Netscape software rather using Microsoft's give-aways, but still, Netscape was doomed from the very start.

    Netscape did the research and development. Microsoft saw what worked, copied it, and gave it away. How could Netscape possibly survive?

    More importantly, what does this say about the Next Big Thing, whatever that may be? What incentive does a person have to turn his great idea into a company, when he knows that Microsoft can simply steal his idea and undersell him once he proves that his idea is a success?

    (3) Microsoft has a long history of abusing their power, and they've been taken to court for it many times in many different countries. They've learned, however, that if they can get a court case to drag on for years, any ruling will become irrelevant because the competition it was supposed to benefit has long since died off. And not only are they skilled at dragging the proceedings through molasses -- but they also thumb their nose at the government while doing it; were they ever reprimanded for introducing a falsified videotape into evidence two years or so ago?

    Any ruling against Microsoft must be strong and unyielding. So far their punishment for shrugging penalties aside has been another court case which has dragged on for another few years, and they'll only ignore the outcome of this one too; this must come to an end.
    • ...market, was because Netscape 4 was a big bloated festering pile of monkey dung from day 1.

      It never even PRETENDED to support standards, its CSS was mediocre at best, it used the <layer> tag for DHTML, instead of the W3C specified DOM properties (which IE MAINLY adhered to, even in the 4.0 days), and in general, was a bastard to code for. Take it from someone who has worked in the industry, everyone HATES coding websites for NS4.

      Mozilla is now superior to IE in alot of ways, but its is too little far too late. While NS was releasing stupid add-on patches to its piece of crap (How many sub versions / bugfixes to NS4 are there? 4.0,4.01,4.04,4.5,4.74,4.75,4.76,4.77, etc. etc.), Microsoft was releasing IE5 and IE5.5, with much enhanced functionality. Sure, we all hate MS, but at least give them some credit. Netscape became overconfident in its market share, and stopped innovating. They are at least partially responsible for their own demise.

      • You're absolutely right. Netscape 4 was (and still is) terrible.

        But this isn't because Netscape chose to stop innovating, any more than a drowning victim chooses to stop breathing.

        Let's rewind history and put you in charge of Netscape circa early 1998. Your largest competitor is giving away free work-alikes to all of your flagship products, and they've got enough money to keep doing this (and to keep stealing any new features you add) indefinitely. Meanwhile, you've got to focus on fixing bugs AND adding features, but with your company's slipping revenues, the best you can do isn't even going to keep pace with what's needed. You simply don't have the money to do proper development and QA.

        Netscape failed because Microsoft purposefully, aggressively, and illegally cut off its air supply.
      • by buzzini (177741) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @12:59AM (#2577678)
        Why Navigator Became Less Attractive (from Myhrvold):

        * First...Netscape ignored small ISPs as potential distributors of Netscape's Web browsing software, effectively ceding that territory to Microsoft for a long time. Through working with those smaller ISPs, Microsoft learned useful information about the ISP business and the needs of ISPs and also obtained valuable feedback about Internet Explorer and the IEAK.

        * Second, Netscape lost its reputation as the supplier of cutting-edge Internet technologies. Netscape's Web browsing software is simply not as good as it used to be relative to the competition, with versions 3.0 and 4.0 of Internet Explorer winning the majority of reviews.

        * Third, Netscape made the strange decision to de-emphasize its established "Navigator" brand name and emphasize a new "Communicator" brand name, despite the widespread association of Navigator with Web browsing software generally. When you have a brand name rapidly becoming as well known as Band-Aid or Kleenex, you do not wisely abandon or de-emphasize it.

        * Fourth, Netscape invested significant time and money going into competition with IBM's Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange in the enterprise messaging business, a field in which Netscape had no product experience and was entirely unprepared for the rigorous quality and product support requirements of large corporate customers.

        * Fifth, Netscape continued to change its corporate direction every six months, to the extent that nobody was quite sure what kind of company it was. Initially, Netscape was a Web browsing software company; then it was a Web server software company; then it was an intranet company; then it was an extranet company, then it was an enterprise messaging company; then it was an electronic commerce company; then it was a portal Web site company. That sort of corporate identity crisis is unsettling to business partners like ISPs, which look for stability and consistency. Furthermore, these changes in corporate direction also made for changes in priorities that caused Netscape to focus much less on ISPs.

        * Sixth, Netscape implemented its referral server program in ways that concerned ISPs. The focus of ISP Select, accessible only by going to Netscape's Web site, made it primarily a tool for switching ISPs and not acquiring new long term users. Although this may have provided advantages to end user customers, from an ISP perspective, it was not a good thing because each ISP's profitability is heavily dependent on maintaining customers for a sufficiently long period of time in order to recover its initial acquisition costs. In addition, Netscape favored large telecommunication companies over smaller entrepreneurial ISPs in the way it set up its ISP Select program.

        * Seventh, and perhaps most importantly, Netscape sought to charge ISPs very high prices for distributing Netscape's Web browsing software. Given the highly competitive nature of the ISP business, it was not economically viable for ISPs to pay such prices. Seeking to gouge ISPs was shortsighted, and encouraged them to explore alternatives. Instead of attempting to gouge ISPs, Netscape should have distributed its Web browsing software and related tools for free and thereby promoted customer demand for other software and services that it offered.

    • Did Netscape ever not offer Navigator for free on the Internet. If I remember correctly you could always download Navigator for free from the Netscape web site. You were supposed to pay for it in like 3 months but no one ever did.
    • The answer is that Word had no serious competition, so Microsoft was content to sell it separately and to offer a stripped-down word processor ("WordPad") bundled with Windows.

      An excellent point. Of course, Word was already involved in a scam, so maybe Microsoft didn't want mix them up.

      MS Word is part of Microsoft's scam of predatory pricing. I wrote an article [mackido.com] for MacKiDo a few years ago that is still relevant today. In it, I discussed how Microsoft was pricing the components in Office to bury the competition.

      For example, if you buy Word, Excel, or PowerPoint individually, you pay $379 each. So if you want Word and Excel, shell out $758. But, for $459, you get Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Entourage, and a helluva lot of clipart. So no one in their right mind would buy an office product by itself, and no one can release a product that competes with any product in the Office suite.

      I feel sorry for PowerOn Software. They worked pretty hard making improvements to Now up to date (their contact manager suite), but they'll have very little luck getting anyone to buy it for two reasons: (1) Entourage is bundled with Office and (2) Microsoft Exchange Server requires Entourage for an email client (or the older Outlook for Mac). So Power On is in the same situation as Netscape; they have to charge for something (to stay in business) that MS has decided to give away for free.

  • They've probably got a script that simply searches through emails for words like Microsoft, Linux, good, bad; and then either counts it for or against microsoft.

    if (/microsoft/ && /bad/ && /consumers/) {

    --$bad_microsoft;

    }

    elsif (/microsoft/ && /good/) {

    ++$good_microsoft;

    }

    elsif (/linux/ && /awesome) {

    ++$slashdot_geek;

    }

  • <sarcasm>
    From the /etc/aliases file on usdoj.gov:

    microsoft.atr : bit-bucket

    <\sarcasm>
  • The article states:
    The Justice Department also set up an e-mail address where consumers and companies may send their comments about the antitrust settlement. The address is microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov, and will operate for 60 days.

    But you are saying here:

    the DoJ has set up an email address where citizens can send comments about the case

    I wonder exactly who is entitled to write an email to the US-DoJ. A lot of non-US citizen slashdoters would be willing to write I guess ...

    -- Don Inodoro

  • "Stiff penalties" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bryan1945 (301828) on Friday November 16, 2001 @10:28PM (#2577424) Journal
    Yeah right. Back in the 80's when illegal dumping of toxic waste was big, fines for those companies were like $50k/day- a value smaller than the amount of money the companies saved by dumping illegally.

    So now we are going to fine MS "stiffly?" How much would this be- 1/10 the value of breaking the rules? MS has a history of breaking these kind of agreements, and I don't see this changing anytime soon.
  • It has been pointed out (I forget where) that windows master cd's are made on a unix station.

    Hotmail was and still is unix windows dressing 2000 on the front end, *if* I am not mistaken.

    Address these or the settlement is worthless:
    1) Bootloader and OEM contracts. NO more, ever.

    2) *IF* windows is requested to be loaded on an OEM box...let the consumer choose which.

    3) Enough of this fscking upgrade treadmill, all versions of windows should be supported for a *mandatory 10 years*, including patches, bugfixes and drivers for the latest hardware.

    4) Anyone who can produce a cd of whatever version of windows they have/had and runs another OS, Microsoft should be *FORCED* to pay the customer back. Windows refund day, with a vengance.

    5) Any vendor "wronged thru contracts" should be allowed to find out what other OEM's payed and get money back for being royally screwed.

    6) Knowing the 'hell' the SAMBA team goes thru with each new version of windows either:
    a) Full and complete publishing of the source code to CIFS/SMB so that SAMBA can be fully integrated into a windows network quickly OR
    b) have Microsoft code it for the team and submit the changes to the SAMBA team.

    7) Inclued the past sins of the 1995 consent decree and allow the "de-integration" or outright *removal* of Outlook, Internet Explorer, Windows media player, whatever their IM client is (anything I missed?)...not removal from the add/remove panel, or the Oulook-sneak where it just get rid of the icons and leave the entire exe and other files behind. REMOVE the wholed damn thing, exe's and dll's that are not crucial.

    8) Heavy fines or non-voting stock in Novell, Redhat and/or Apple(again). And whoever else was harmed in the past 10+ years by the anticompetitive actions (ignore ineptitude of some of the competitors, or not, business decisions).

    9) I'm sure there is a contract lawyer who can point out the BS of "shrink wrap" licenses, do so while we are at it, on MS's tab. Why? see #4, again, because if you can be reamed by clicking I agree, what happens if you click "I disagree", humm? Can't get a refund...sorry, don't work that way (or should not). Too many catch 22's with software if it does not work or is a digital lemon (can't make lemonaide, DMCA forbids it I am certain).

    Thoughts? Suggestions? Penguin Mint(tm)?

    Let's face facts, you can't change history, but you can influence the future.
    Man, 3 more "steps" and it would have been a 12 step process. Heh, MA (Microsoft Anonymous).

    Cheers,

    GISboy
  • by Futurepower(tm) (228467) <M_Jennings @ not ... futurepower.org> on Friday November 16, 2001 @11:35PM (#2577533) Homepage

    Here's my letter to the DOJ:


    I've owned a computer dealership since before IBM sold personal computers. I'm also a programmer.

    Microsoft is extemely abusive and anti-competitive. -- Microsoft is far, far more anti-competitive and abusive than the US DOJ vs. Microsoft antitrust case [usdoj.gov] discusses. If the present case in resolved in an insufficient fashion, there will be a need for another case immediately.

    Secret file formats are anti-competitive. -- A good partial resolution of the case would be to prohibit Microsoft from using secret file formats. Then there could be competition again.

    At present there cannot be competition because the software from the dominant company, Microsoft, produces file formats that cannot be reproduced because they are secret. So, another company cannot make software that reliably inter-operates.

    At present, if a big customer upgrades to a new version of Microsoft Office, and sends out files in a format incompatible with previous versions, all people who receive the files are forced to upgrade their Microsoft software. Companies understandably don't want to go to a good customer and ask that a document be sent again in a former file format.

    Microsoft produces software that is deliberately faulty. -- Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME all have articifial limitations which cause them to crash even though there are plenty of hardware resources. These are called "User Resources" and "GDI Resources". The memory for these resources is artificially limited to 128,000 bytes in some cases and 2 megabytes in other cases. When these resources are exhausted, the operating systems stop functioning.

    Microsoft deliberately allows piracy. -- Major competitors of Microsoft like Corel Word Perfect and IBM Lotus WordPro have difficulty competing because Microsoft allows enough piracy of Microsoft products that competitors cannot sell theirs.

    I called the Microsoft legal department and complained about this. The result was that I was a witness in a case against one of the pirates. More recently I tried to complain about this again, but it is now impossible to contact Microsoft's legal department.

    In my area Microsoft Office 2000 is available for $50.00 at dealers who sell low-cost computers. I have verified with Microsoft that these are pirated copies. Over a period of many years, Microsoft has not taken sufficient action against the pirates to allow a chance for honest competitors.

    Microsoft is ending support. -- Next month, December 2001, Microsoft will stop providing support for Windows 98, apparently in an attempt to force users to upgrade. Another good partial resolution of the DOJ-Microsoft case would be to extend the support time for at least another 10 years. Many people have computers that operate fine for the purpose for which they are used. For example, an accounting department in a small company may use Windows 95, or even the DOS operating system. These people should not be forced to upgrade.

    These are only a few of the extremely anti-competitive and abusive methods Microsoft uses, in my opinion.

    Regards,

    Michael Jennings


    An explanation of how the U.S. got involved in violence: What should be the Response to Violence? [hevanet.com]
    • It is Windows 95, not Windows 98 that is having support ended in Dec 2001.

      Windows Desktop Product Lifecycle Guidelines [microsoft.com]

      This is the fast moving consumer/SOHO desktop market. Is it reasonable to expect any company to support software that is 6 years old?

      At the s/w company I work for the software is aimed at a similar market and support is dropped after 2 subsequent versions are released; this works out at about 3 years. Are you going to set the DOJ onto us as well?

      • If your company is not extemely abusive and anti-competitive, you have nothing to fear from the DOJ.

        You are right, Windows 98 full support will stop in 7 months, not 1 month.

        From the Langa Newsletter, Nov. 15, 2001 [langa.com]:

        "Starting next month and ending next June, the overwhelming majority of current Windows users will find themselves operating OS versions that the vendor --- Microsoft --- either doesn't support, or only partially supports! " [my emphasis]

        (The Langa Newsletter is an excellent free emailed newsletter that covers matters of interest to computer users.)


        An explanation of how the U.S. got involved in violence: What should be the Response to Violence? [hevanet.com]
    • Your letter has some glaring problems:

      Microsoft is far, far more anti-competitive and abusive than the US DOJ vs. Microsoft antitrust case [usdoj.gov] discusses.

      If it is beyond the scope of the case then it is beyond the scope of the remedy. The findings of fact and law have been affirmed by the Appeals court and if the remedy doesn't follow those findings them Microsoft has valid ground for yet another appeal.

      Secret file formats are anti-competitive. -- A good partial resolution of the case would be to prohibit Microsoft from using secret file formats. Then there could be competition again.

      This case wasn't about Office. In fact Microsoft has a monopoly in both areas and therefore can't (by definition) use a monopoly in one area to GAIN a monopoly in the other. I don't believe there was anything in the findings about file formats and if not then applying those in a remedy would likely get it overturned in appeals. Sorry.

      Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME all have articifial limitations which cause them to crash even though there are plenty of hardware resources. These are called "User Resources" and "GDI Resources". The memory for these resources is artificially limited to 128,000 bytes in some cases and 2 megabytes in other cases. When these resources are exhausted, the operating systems stop functioning.

      These aren't arbitrary limits. There are valid technical reasons (regardless of how ugly the solution was) for them being there (namely the use of the Win16 GDI layer as the drawing engine in Win9x). These restrictions no longer exist in WinXP so your argument here is quite a joke.

      What sort of programmer are you?

      Microsoft deliberately allows piracy.

      So I take it you support their moves for product activation?

      Seriously, this is a stupid comment. Microsoft are perfectly within their rights not to prosecute every report of piracy they find, just as you are within your rights not to press charges over someone trespassing on your property. What are you really asking for here?

      Microsoft is ending support.

      This is a standard business practice. All businesses define an end of life for a product and try to get consumers to move to the next version in line. You can't support an old product forever and NOTHING is stopping a company from continuing to use the software. You are not forced to upgrade, the company just doesn't provide a particular service for your software any more.

      In the end, it seems what you are trying to do is introduce new facts to a case which has already had those findings affirmed by the Appeals Court. Perhaps you would be far better off pushing for a new trial with these ideas of yours rather than somehow introducing them into the remedy which would almost certainly result in a successful appeal from Microsoft should they be addressed.

      • "If it is beyond the scope of the case then it is beyond the scope of the remedy. The findings of fact and law have been affirmed by the Appeals court and if the remedy doesn't follow those findings them Microsoft has valid ground for yet another appeal."

        The issue has moved away from a court resolution. The issue now is a negotiated settlement. Using secret file formats to enforce monopoly is relevant. It is relevant that Microsoft is extremely abusive in other ways, also.

        "These aren't arbitrary limits. There are valid technical reasons (regardless of how ugly the solution was) for them being there (namely the use of the Win16 GDI layer as the drawing engine in Win9x). These restrictions no longer exist in WinXP so your argument here is quite a joke.

        "What sort of programmer are you?"


        I am a good programmer, and I realize that computers can be programmed. It was not elegant to use the old Win16 code. However, an even more inelegant work-around could have solved the problem.

        Allowing Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME to crash was a VERY heartless act on the part of Microsoft. Many, many users bought extra memory for their computers, not realizing that it would make no difference.

        "... this is a stupid comment."

        This is a problem on Slashdot. People are too quick to call someone else stupid. Also, even if I am stupid, this is not justification for you to act out your anger toward me. It is only justification for you to educate me.


        An explanation of how the U.S. got involved in violence: What should be the Response to Violence? [hevanet.com]
  • I suppose that it is a good thing that the FBI is working with the EU to get US law to apply in Europe, because it sort of balances out the efforts of the antitrust division to insure that US law doesn't apply in America.

  • by WasterDave (20047) <davep&zedkep,com> on Friday November 16, 2001 @11:36PM (#2577536)
    ...and I'll say it again. You have, on the one hand, a goverment that really wants to be able to bug electronic communications. On the other hand, a monopoly software company that controls 99.999% of desktops in the world. Now, the software company owes the government a favour so....

    Dave
  • To recap from an earlier post ...

    I would want to have a big review commitee, made up of people from all the states in the suit, so you have a nice big committee of 50 or 60 people, to pass on Micorsoft Decisions _in advance_.

    Micromanage the hell out of them. Hire IRS agents to do the auditing. You get the idea.

    If Microsoft is on Probation, then run a _tough_ probation program

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, 2001 @12:08AM (#2577590)
    More importantly, the DoJ has set up an email address where citizens can send comments about the case: microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov.

    Important! At the end of the month the email address will be discontinued because of a domain name shift. The new email address will be usdoj@microsoft.gov [mailto]
  • Read the Settlement. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Futurepower(tm) (228467) <M_Jennings @ not ... futurepower.org> on Saturday November 17, 2001 @12:28AM (#2577619) Homepage

    I read the settlement [usdoj.gov]. It is great for Microsoft, and almost meaningless for everyone else.

    The provisions don't begin until many people have been pushed into using Windows XP (eXtra Pain), after which they will be trapped in ways that are not part of the case. Here is a quote:

    "Starting at the earlier of the release of Service Pack 1 for Windows XP or 12 months after the submission of this Final Judgment to the Court..."

    Why not starting now?

    Microsoft must disclose APIs, but may charge royalties. This prevents competition from Linux.

    There is nothing which prevents Microsoft from using secret Microsoft Office file formats in an anti-competitive way.

    The settlement provisions apparently do not apply if Microsoft claims that its anti-competitive software practices provide security.

    The provisions provide Microsoft significant benefits.
  • As a dystopian, I'm actually quite happy the DOJ has graced Gate's bum with their lips.

    You have to admit that this settlement is a big shot in the arm for all the people worldwide who consider the USA to be a feeble, corrupt, greed-based police state that mouths the words "Liberty, Freedom, Justice" as though they still had some meaning somewhere in the world.

    Next time the USA critisizes some other countries political or humanitarian policies, all they have to say is "Bill Gates and George Bush! Don't tell us about corruption and justice!"
  • I submitted comments to the Bill Lockyer's office (CA DOJ) via their website, and received the following reply (names redacted to protect myself)...

    Mr. [name deleted]:

    I want to thank you for sending us your comments regarding the
    proposed Microsoft settlement. I work for Attorney General Bill Lockyer as
    part of the multi-state team that rejected the settlement and that is
    continuing to litigate against Microsoft. We are developing lists of those
    who would willing to submit comments in the upcoming court proceedings.
    Because of your earlier thoughtful comments, we are hoping you would be
    willing to participate.

    At this point, the court is proceeding on two tracks. The first is
    a litigation track, or a trial on the remedies (as opposed to the settlement
    agreement.) We are preparing to make initial filings in early December.
    The second track is a "Tunney hearing" on the proposed settlement agreement.
    This is a fairness hearing where the court will hear comments on the
    proposed settlement. The public is invited to participate. We are very
    anxious to have knowledgeable people submit written comments. If this is
    something you would be interested in doing, can you let me know? If you
    are interested, could you send me a contact number? I will put you on a
    list and someone from our team will call you in the next weeks to provide
    more information. In all likelihood, we will be asking for you to submit a
    letter in writing to the court. If you are not interested, just let me know
    and we will not share your information with anyone else.

    Again, thank you for sending us your comments. I look forward to
    hearing from you in the near future.

    [person from CA DOJ office]


    Now, I just need to figure out what to tell them!
  • Does atr stand for anti-trust or atrocity? You decide! Send your e-mail votes in now.
  • Don't waste your breath with the DOJ -- they have already signed away the public's rights and are legally bound to support the settlement.

    Instead write to the Court, during the period for public comments, which is all that is left between today and Microsoft's next to final "out." Even if you do not compel the Court to refuse to ratify the settlement, under a standard VERY favorable to Microsoft, this will be the same judge to hear the penalty phase in the case with the remaining states. As a human being, she will remember what you tell her.

    The DOJ box is a diversion. Write there as well, if you like, but only after you have registered your thoughtful comments with the Court.

You have a tendency to feel you are superior to most computers.

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