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Slashdot's "Instant" Legal Analysis of the MS Ruling 455

As soon as Judge Jackson's decision was available for download (from this mirror site, among others), I was on the phone with Washington DC attorney Don Weightman, who often serves as the informal "Slashdot legal interpreter" on federal law, especially for antitrust and regulatory matters. Click below for a transcript of the phone conversation Don and I had as we read the decision together. Don makes some great points!

Don - This decision from Judge Jackson is the best legal field guide I've seen to the new economy. It's great. This judge really gets it!

Robin - What do you mean?

Don - The judge appears to understand why and how people have been fighting the battle they've been fighting about software. Where Microsoft has been getting its competitive advantage and what it's been doing to keep it. What's more, there's a clear account of the relationship between big fish like MS and perhaps Sun and Netscape and the thousands of smaller developer who have to cope with program interfaces and live and die on the the competitive possibilities that the big fish allow them.

Note: Don says to pay particular attention to Paragraph 18 of Judge Jackson's ruling, which says the market MS controls is for PC operating systems, and also says Mac, Linux, and handheld appliances aren't in the same "ballpark" as PC OSes. Two other critical paragraphs Don notes are numbers 33 & 34, where the Judge describes why he considers that MS controls that market.

Paragraph 38 talks about the economics of software and #39 talks about positive network effect, or "why if everybody else has a piece of critical software you have to get it too." Paragraph 50 specifically mentions Linux, but Don says "I'll leave that one to you guys to decide how spot-on it is." :)

Beyond that, you might as well read the decision yourself. Don says, again, "This Judge really gets it!

Now back to the questions...

Robin - Now what happens? Does every software company that feels MS ever abused it file on them?

Don - I'm going to read to you from paragraph 93 ... "It is Microsoft's corporate practice to pressure other firms to halt software development that either shows the potential to weaken the applications barrier to entry or competes directly with Microsoft's most cherished software products." These are Judge Jackson's words for what happens to you if you try to compete with Microsoft. A lot of software company will be sharpening their word processors tonight...

Robin - How do you think consumers will react?

Don - When they realize that they've had to pay more for computers because MS has charged high prices for their OS, they may take the issue more personally. It's close to certain that someone, somewhere will file a class action suit.

Robin - What about the "browser wars" that actually started the whole thing? Where do they fit into all this?

Don - It looks as if (he stops for a moment to laugh some more) the Judge is finding that MS went after Netscape with both guns blazing, giving Explorer away with one hand and preventing Netscape's installation on new computers with the other, and that all of this was done for anti-competitive purposes. The other thing I'm seeing on the browser wars is that it's pretty clear that the Judge did not buy MS's story on why MSIE was bundled with Windows. He says, "Microsoft's actions have inflicted [collateral] harm on consumers who have no interest in using a Web browser at all" because Win98 runs more slowly it would if they hadn't put the browser in.

Also in paragraph 173 -- which I just quoted part of -- it says,"Microsoft has forced Windows 98 users uninterested in using [it] to carry software that, while providing them with no benefits, brings with it all the costs associated with carrying addtional software on a system. These include performance degradation, increased risk of incompatibilities, and the introduction of bugs."

Note: (At this point Don starts laughing and says, "It gets even better..") Really, you do need to read the decision for yourself! Don says, "You get the feeling that the Judge is a disgruntled Windows user!" But unlike most disgruntled Windows users, this one has the power to do something about it. Right on, Judge Jackson!

Robin - But Don, all the lovely legal language and Windows-knocking aside, isn't this decision going to end up getting appealed forever?

Don - Yes. However, it is unlikely that an appellate court will want to get its hands under the hood of the relationship between Windows and browsers and between MS and its competitors at level of detail shown by Judge Jackson's findings. It's possible to overturn this but it would be hard.

Robin - Don, how much do you figure MS has spent on legal fees so far, and how much more are they going to spend before this is over?

Don - I'm guessing that they've spent more than $50 million so far. And when you say "when all this is over," if you include the industry suits and class action suits brought by private plaintiffs, you could could be talking about real money. Even for MS.

Robin - What's "real money"?

Don - It depends on whether someone nails them for damages. A $10 rebate for each customer who has bought Windows would run into billions. When you add in the damages that could be claimed by other software makers besides Netscape [like Corel], and by users who ended up with MS products, perhaps at excessive prices, because others weren't available, then only the sky is the limit.

Robin - Do you think Bill Gates will have a "House For Sale" ad in the Seattle newspapers next Sunday?

Don - It depends on how fast and far Microsoft's stock price drops. It's already started to drop, according to a story that just went up on ZDNet.

Robin - Don't forget: all that happened today was that Judge Jackson decided MS was naughty. He didn't say what kind of punishment they should get, which he won't do until he hears a whole new set of arguments. Don's best guess is that the ruling on punishment won't come out "until early next year."

Don Weightman and I will try to get a "Microsoft antitrust legal issues" follow-up together by sometime next week. Or perhaps you would like to do it? If so -- and if you're qualified -- e-mail and we'll talk about it.

- Robin "roblimo" Miller

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Slashdot's "Instant" Legal Analysis of the MS Ruling

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Interesting how MS has the finding of fact in both Word and WordPerfect formats, of course, they wouldn't put it in .txt format or anything, that would make it easier for someone who doesn't use windoze.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Washington DC attorney Don Weightman, who often serves as the informal "Slashdot legal interpreter" on federal law,

    Odd, searching slashdot for Weightman returns:
    1 Feature: The Broadband Wars by Roblimo on Tuesday July 20, @09:17AM EST 301

    One article does not "often" make... but:
    When you say "Slashdot", You mean, don't you?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't want to sour the party at all, but before we get too happy lets stop and look at the facts.

    1. Microsoft will NOT be broken up. I have heard some people discussing this as possibillity, but it's simply not going to happen unless Microsoft *chooses* this(and they won't). I don't care what anyone says, its just not going to happen. Standard oil was a completely different case this is different. With software you can simply revoke your competitive advantage (i.e. open source it) and you will no longer be a monopoly.

    2. This won't change much for the final OS market. Linux won't suddenly gain marketshare because consumers aren't going to decide to stop using Windows just because a judge somewhere thinks that Microsoft uses unfair marketting practices.

    The good news, on the other hand, is that this will certainly make it easier to purchase computers without windows pre-installed. One of Microsoft's many ways of forcing windows on it's consumer base is to force PC manufacturers to pay for each computer made, not how many copies of windows it actually installs. This practice will almost certainly be stopped.

    Bottom Line: The war with Microsoft is far from over, but this is an excellent start.


  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just make them completely document all protocols,
    API's, and file formats.

    That is enough to let them stay ahead if they
    truly innovate; but if they drag behind the
    industry won't have to suffer as we are now.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Actually, findings of fact are where the judge says what he's decided is proven as to the facts of a case. He's listened to both sides and has decided who he believes. In a divorce case, for example, he might say in the Findings: the defendant (say the husband) acted like this and like this on such and such a day and the result was that the wife ended up in such and such a hospital. He'll state what he finds the husband's income to be (usually more than the guy tried to say it is). He'll state what the children's names and DOBs are and that they are entitled to support, that they are his kids, etc. He will be writing in the facts that MATCH the law's requirements. It has to reach all the necessary elements of the law for the divorce to be granted. It isn't random. He's touching all the necessary bases. THEN, in the conclusions of law, a separate document, he says what laws apply to the case, which section of the divorce law, for ex., and states what is to be done. But the two docs are related. You don't write the Findings and later think about what your conclusions are. In the MS case, he didn't just say they are a monopoly, he said they damaged not only the competition but also held back innovation and hurt consumers...he was touching all the necessary bases, legally. That's why MS statements are all stressing how much they care about consumers are the beneficiaries of the healthy business rivalries... just amazing speeches, if you don't understand the law... You can see what's likely to come from the findings of fact, and can CLEARLY see who has prevailed and who the judge is going to favor. This judge says MS was naughty, all right. Findings of fact means exactly that -- he didn't buy their story. What he will do about it is what's to come -- first both sides present to the judge what they think the laws are that he ought to consider and how they relate to what should happen. Then he decides. He's not without his own ideas already however! In real life, what usually happens in a situation like this is settlement talks start ASAP in hopes of avoiding le deluge .. as per Gates' statement on how much they would like to put this case behind them, etc. Unless his lawyers see something legally, not morally, they think they can use on appeal, they will certainly be talking settlement. And these findings are so incredibly detailed... appeals aren't based on a different point of view. The appeals courts don't usually get into facts, that is, they don't retry a case, only overturn cause of things like mistakes of law or prejudice from the judge, that kind of thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Don't forget Friday night isn't exactly the most active time of the week. Alot of serious people are home with the kids. I don't expect the price to crater. I do think there will be some spillover to all pc related stocks. Most of it negative. OTOH I doubt a great deal on the downside Monday. What I do expect is something like Phillip Morris's stock chart. The only difference is MO has better lawyers.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When you live in a nation of laws you expect to be punished if you break those laws. No one forced Microsoft to act the way it did. If microsoft broke the law they should be punished. Anything less makes laws just words.
  • Sounds like fun. Maybe I can bring my wireless laptop and you can contribute some commentary...

    - Robin

  • by Roblimo ( 357 ) on Friday November 05, 1999 @03:51PM (#1557985) Homepage Journal
    When we - and I mean Slashdot editors - have a question about a point of federal antitrust law or FCC regulation, Don is always happy to give us advice or steer us to someone who can. The "Broadband Wars" story to which you refer was his only previous *public* appearance here, but a lot more "behind the scenes" work goes into Slashdot than most people realize. (Believe it or not, Rob and Jeff don't spend all day playing with Rob's robot dog. They bust ass most of the time!)

    Anyway, I think Don deserves great thanks for having blown part of a Friday evening with his family to share his insights with us. He works long, hard hours -- and I happen to know that today was particularly busy for him. ;-)

    - Robin

  • I'm still digesting the FOF. But one thing strikes me. This is an history making document. Our biz will be different from here on out.
    The funny thing is, Microsoft sees fit to quote only Section 408 on its website:

    408. The debut of Internet Explorer and its rapid improvement gave Netscape an incentive to improve Navigator's quality at a competitive rate. The inclusion of Internet Explorer with Windows at no separate charge increased general familiarity with the Internet and reduced the cost to the public of gaining access to it, at least in part because it compelled Netscape to stop charging for Navigator. These actions thus contributed to improving the quality of Web browsing software, lowering its cost, and increasing its availability, thereby benefitting consumers.

    Poor MS. I guess that one paragraph is about the only spin it can find in this whole document.

  • WP has had a lot of acceptance in the legal field because of it's ability to create large libraries of standard verbiage for legal documents. A lawyer can create a iron-clad contract for hundreds of different situations simply by picking the correct verbiage macros and typing in the specifics. It takes them all of 10 minutes to do so. Once you know the system, and you know that it is thoughly debugged, why change? And since WP corp made sure that their software fully met the specifications of it's customers they have no reason to change. Hey, imagine that, listening to customers and giving them what they want rather than dictating autocraticly what they will get!

  • The disconcerting part is that the MS people show _no_ signs of backing down even now. They haven't changed their tune one iota. I think they're all brainwashed, they're just going to stonewall it to death (theirs).
  • I finally finished reading most of the FOF and can say that I'm astounded by the one-sidedness of the this document. It reads like David Boiles or Joe Klein were the authors.

    Or maybe, just MAYBE, Microsoft really did all those bad things? Is that even remotely a possibility?


  • You obviously never used doublespace, or QEMM, or DR-DOS. Oh yeah, what about them stacker folks?

    MS has been doing this since day 1... I'm honestly surprised it took this long.

  • "Monopolistically Competitive" is an oxymoron.

  • Every company has a monopoly in their own product. That's why we have copyright and patent laws.

    Coke and Pepsi are healthy competing products of the same type, I see no monopoly there. A monopoly has a blanketed market share to the point where competitors are insignificant. Hence competitiveness at any sense with something "insignificant" is hardly possible.

  • Doublespace contained a good deal of code from Stacker.. In fact, it was so significant to the point where certain drive utilities would recognize doublespaced drives as stacker drives.

    QEMM is an excellent memory manager that always has to have a fixpatch for every single version of windows, for some reason M$ kept breaking it's support. I eventually got tired of using it after having to buy new versions just to support windows.

    DR-DOS would not work with Win3.1, despite the fact that it was more than compatible as a fully functional dos.

    I should have explained myself better, these are examples of M$'s destruction of other companies' products through market dominance.

  • by Ami Ganguli ( 921 ) on Friday November 05, 1999 @05:11PM (#1557994) Homepage

    Probably the most immediate and tangible effect this will have on Microsoft is in employee turnover.

    As I understand it, MS doesn't really pay that well, except employees get rich on the stock options. Suddenly those stocks aren't so attractive. MS will have trouble holding on to its talent, or hiring new staff.

    Anybody know how much it would cost Microsoft to pay market rates for it's staff?

  • Let us not forget that the case against GM was dealt a severe blow when it was discovered that model rocket engines were planted on the trucks to get the tanks to explode on que for the cameras.

    The government almost lost the case on that day.

  • It's too bad that both Internet Exploder and Netscape 4.x suck so bad.
  • Hey, thanks, that *is* easier to read!

    Anyone with mod points, bump this up, if it hasn't been mentioned already.

    I just converted the .pdf file to text, but the HTML document is much more accessible, as it is on what is commonly called a "web page", found on the "Internet". (did this give anyone else Dr. Evil flashbacks? 'Using a "laser", I will punch a hole in the "ozone layer"'... :)
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • Yes, he mentions these things. But the good Judges task was to decide whether or not Microsoft was a MONOPOLY.

    That was certainly the most important issue he had to decide, but it was far from being the only one. He had to determine (after the trial proceedings and a review of all the evidence) what the facts of the case were. The facts, as he's determined them, say not only that Microsoft is a monopoly, but that they used that monopoly in ways which will almost certainly be deemed illegal when they get around to the findings of law portion.

    He laid out many facts that will be of much help to other companies and individuals who have brought (or will soon bring) suits against Microsoft. Caldera is a perfect example. This will be a great boost for their case since they will not have to prove that Microsoft is a monopoly since Judge Jackson already determined that they are.

    All in all, this is a very bad thing for Microsoft. Yes, they will appeal it as long as possible. But the DOJ has a nice advantage after this point. These facts can't be appealed. Only the findings of law can be appealed. I think the facts are damning enough that they won't have much luck with their appeals. If some useful injunctions are put in place while the appeals process goes on, and they are actually enforced this time, then perhaps something good was accomplished by this suit.

  • People have had a lot of hope over the last year due to the fact that the DOJ actually seemed to have wised up a bit. They realized that Microsoft laughed off their consent decree and they apparently decided to try and do it right this time.

    This has given many companies the courage to do something besides dance to Microsoft's tune. Were it not for this suit, Linux would have much more bleak prospects than it currently does. I doubt we would have seen the investments from the likes of IBM and Intel if the suit hadn't happened. People have had reason to show confidence in Linux' chances of becoming a real competitor to Windows. Much of this is only possible because of the DOJ case.

  • What are your yammering about? Have you ever tried using WindowMaker, Gnome, or KDE? Somehow I doubt it or you wouldn't have been spewing that crap in a post here.

  • Umm. For someone who has nothing to say, you sure are saying a lot of it.

    I guess I don't see your problem. XFree86 is not a GUI, but a graphics server, and you run a window manager and apps that define the look of the graphical environment. So what are you whining about?
  • Make that:
    but, both are there...;)
  • I am a lawyer, but this isn't advice. etc.

    1) You can always file the initial appeal, which willl be heard. This is part of due process.

    2) Findings of Fact *can* be appealed. However, the standard of review makes it improbable that they will be reversed. Conclusions of law can be altered by an appellate court easily; the appellate court just substitutes its own judgment. Factual findings, however, whether by a judge or jury, can only be overturned if the appellate court finds that no reasonable person could have come to that conclusion given the evidence before them. A *very* tough standard.
  • >"Monopolistically Competitive" is an oxymoron.

    Not if you have any idea what it means :)

    It describes a market in which each firm has a monopoly in their own product, which is distinguished in some way from other products (Coke & Pepsi). Each firm has some market power, but must compete with other monopolists.
  • > Caldera's case is kind of on shakey ground,
    >IMHO, because they didn't own DR-DOS during a
    >time where it would have mattered.

    Completely & utterly irrelevant :) Part of DR-DOS when they bought it was the potential claim against ms.

    > They bought
    >DR-DOS only after it was fairly clear that
    >DR-DOS wasn't a viable product anymore. But

    Yep. But they bought it wounds & all

    hawk, esq. (but this isn't legal advice)
  • by ChrisRijk ( 1818 ) on Friday November 05, 1999 @03:41PM (#1558007)
    I've read most of the "Findings of Fact" - skimmed some bits. Not bad reading actually. I'd followed the trial pretty closely (mostly by reading stuff at The Register [] who did include a lot of detail and analysis) and I can see where pretty much all the points Judge Jackson brought up. I agree pretty much right on with just about everything the good Judge said. I'm no lawyer though... but my studies in Economics helped!

    I remember an article that appeared on Infoworld about a year ago, basically saying that if MS is offically declared a monopoly, it'll basically open the sluice gates for law-suits against MS.

    It'll probabaly have a decent effect on the two other major current MS lawsuits - Sun against MS over Java (that Judge for that lawsuit is expected to re-rule on some major points soon) and the Caldera one which will go to trial soon. (couldn't find any references to Caldera in the "findings of fact" though)

    Another interesting point is that it is (apparantly) possible for the DoJ to ask for any full appeal to go directly the the Supreme Court! (or something like that) Uh oh... ^-^

    Finally... I wish the people I do share dealings with would do "future" shares - basically betting that the share price will fall, as I had some money I'd quite happily put on MS's shares falling. Oh well... It'll be interesting to see the affect on MS's main competitors.

  • by ChrisRijk ( 1818 ) on Friday November 05, 1999 @04:09PM (#1558008)
  • The Court defines the market as that of OSes for Intel-compatible desktop personal computers. It pretty convincingly argues that there are no other significant companies in that market -- Linux and BeOS notwithstanding. Hence, monopoly.


  • Funny you should mention that. Have you seen this? []


  • There are two reasons the Appeals Court won't do much with this. One, it is a finding of fact. appellate courts have to have an extremely good reason to overturn a finding of fact. They regularly tell the judge that he didn't understand the law, but are expected to be able to show that the finder of fact was totally clueless before overturning a finding of fact. This finding of fact may not be 100%, but it is still top notch. The rest of the case will depend on this finding of fact.

    Two, the whole thing might be certified directly to the Supreme Court when all is said and done. If so, the DC Circuit won't be able to say anything.
  • would know that it's impossible.

    Bzzzt. Wrong. []

  • every format? Not really. For example, there was no Applixware native format. What I was was one proprietary format (Wordperfect, presumably what the document was created in) and a few other mostly-open formats like PDF and HTML. This seems reasonable to me. Text might be nice, but HTML is close enough (since it's all a single page; just strip the tags).
  • There should be a class action lawsuit placed against Microsoft totalling $10 * every copy of Microsoft Windows 95/98 every sold. Anyone who can prove they have a license should get $10 for each license they hold. The money they cannot give out should be given to the FSF to promote the future of free/open software.

    My $.02

  • I don't know, I thought the jab at Larry Elison was pretty funny...


  • Thanks for pointing out this poll.

    Your suggestion that we vote exactly what we believe is great. Sadly, this disgustingly biased Harris Poll [] only offers choices that imply Microsoft is some kind of victim rather than the abusive perpetrator the courts are showing them to be!

    "Did Microsoft get what they deserved?" means what? Microsoft hasn't gotten anything yet! Then the choice of three answers includes two which favour Microsoft? Nice to see anyway that those two don't get as many responses combined as the "yes" does.

    For "what do you think will happen next?" the only choices are for Microsoft to get the best it can still hope for or else it's "drawn out" and "bitter"?!

    Amazing. I'll have to save this as a reminder not to ever trust Harris Poll results even as far as the Slashdot ones.

  • You realize Microsoft was one of four new companies (plus Intel, SBC and Home Depot) that recently made it onto the Dow Industrial Average. How's the stock market going to cope? What's that say for the Dow, that they're putting megalithic evil companies up with the set standard?

    Then again, they have had Ford.

    And what about Windows 2000? That's scheduled to come out Feb. 17. Not that lots of people are gonna yank it off the shelves, but does it have much of a chance now?


  • Of course he gets it. He has been on this case for more than four years. He has been hearing about programming interfaces for longer than most Slashdot readers. His well-publicized reactions and statements in the courtroom on this leg of the case are clear evidence that he gets it; the finding of fact is mere confirmation of it.
  • Say that again? How is it that a *FREE* OS made by people that do not get paid for their services are able to enter the market and compete quite well? That's a high barrier?
    The barrier is the cost of development of a new operating system. This requires such a large (manpower) investment that it has taken thousands of volunteers several years. To do this commercially would take many millions of dollars.
  • Lots and lots of legal people use WordPerfect. In fact, more than a few law offices actually still use WordPerfect 5.1a for DOS.

    They also use a lot of NetWare, as I understand it...

  • Lawyers can be dumb, but they're smart enough to generally avoid typing in the first place. They have secretaries type. And they have very strict requirements on the formatting of their documents so it seems that WP has turned out to be the best suited. Want to effect a change? Make an emacs lawyer mode. It would probably catch on quickly as long as it can import WP files without a hitch.
  • While I rejoice at this ruling as much as anyone else, we still have a ways to go. By itself, this ruling is essentially meaningless. Once we start seeing all the other charges answered, and all the penalties assigned, THEN we can start going ape-shite and comparing it to David and Goliath's big brother Chip. Hell. I'll even buy a round for anyone showing up on my doorstep when it happens!

    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • My mom still uses WP5.1 for DOS (albeit on a P2 333 that I built her) for medical transcription for just this reason. She has literally hundreds of terminology fragments and common usages (she works for one ultra-workaholic neurosurgeon and has been doing this for nigh on 10 years for him now). She initially started on WP4.2 and when I bought 5.1 she upgraded and took a class to learn it. She absoloutely REFUSES to go Windows-based word processors, even WP for Windows. She claims, rightfully, that she's more productive in DOS than she ever could be mouse-clicking like a nut in Windows. I actually type faster than she does, but she knocks documents out faster than me for two reasons:
    1. I do my formatting AFTER I finish typing up the document (and in Windows, that formatting is a bit slower than 3 keystrokes.
    2. Again, her vast library of macros. She actually had to cut back because she'd overloaded her macro directory (of course she WAS storing entire DOCUMENT SHELLS as macros).

    Up until June of this year (she'd been banging away on an old 486/33 with 20MB RAM (16 of which I'd put in) and a 230MB HD. The only reason she upgraded was that I dismantled her machine one day while she was at work and put the new machine in there. Then told her that the old one had fried it's HD (but I'd "luckily" had the new machine laying around (sorta like my uncle just had a 10MB IBM HD "laying around" when I built my first 8088 system) and that the old system wouldn't like the 3GB drive it had in it).

    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • The cost of the OS is a factor with the new crop of PCs that cost less than $400. Once you get below the $400 mark, the $100 cost for Windows becomes significant enough that you either don't include an OS, or have the system in question run Linux or BeOS.

    - Sam

  • Not all of us have the same ideology as you do. Some of us think it'd be great if it were easier for ethical developers of commercial software can do business without the threat of being crushed.

    Those who develop software in part for financial gain are not The Great Satan. They are your friends, family, and anyone else who has to work for a living. Having code open-sourced is a great thing, but it's not a prerequisite for an ethical company.

    I'm for choice, not for 'choice as long as it falls under the GPL'.

    - Darchmare
    - Axis Mutatis,
  • i wouldn't say there is any indication of microsoft stock dropping appreciably. friday, 630 has an obvious effect, the judge had no wish to precipitate a market panic.

    microsoft can not afford to settle this out of court. odds are they cant and wont. they tried to settle in 1995, and they lied to the federal gov't. our gov't, for various reasons, doesn't trust microsoft or bill gates. gates apparently boasted in private after settling that he hadnt changed any of his business practices.

    also, bill gates has been extremely arrogant in his entire treatment of the US and due process of law. the judge IS NOT STUPID, he KNOWS that bill gates perjured himself on video. and the false evidence with the win98 switch couldnt have helped either. plus, the rather heavy-handed lobbying of the Senate and House and the cheap-shot paid-for "independent" supporters of Microsoft could easily be construed by the judge as indirect attempts to evade justice. Judges treasure their autonomy and power. they will not take this kind of thing lightly.

    on the other hand, dont count on any of this ever bankrupting bill gates. first of all, itll take years before they get anywhere. but even so, bill gates can only stand to make more money. if they force microsoft to license windows code, they surely won't make him do it for free. and if they split microsoft into smaller companies, he will get filthy rich.

    Rockefeller reached the height of his wealth (even if it began the dismantling of his power base) by the Government-coerced split of the Standard Oil trust. He ended up owning stock in all of the descendants, each of which increased in value. I imagine that splitting Microsoft would result in something similar (even if it didn't last very long, it would be enough in the short run).

    besides, if we all get where we want to, by the time future decisions based on this one have any binding effect the whole idea of windows and a closed operating system will be irrelevant anyway. Right?

  • Because he would be getting $1.5 BILLION instead of $150 Million from Bill. Their case did not have anything to do with being a monopoly, but if the judge says that they were keeping people from bettering their products then Steve may have had a case. Very interesting indeed.
  • This finding of fact may not be 100%

    Yes, I was VERY impressed by the accuracy of the judge's ruling.

    One thing though: "at all times in the last x years microsofts marketshare was above 90%" is technically incompatible with "when in 9x OS/2's marketshare was over 10%".

    (I didn't go back to the original ruling to find exact quotes for this, so treat with care... )

  • Actually, I found DOS 3.3 to be quite stable and reliable. I noticed a significant INCREASE in crashes once I upgraded to DOS 6.22. (Although it was an improvement over versions 4 & 5.)

    Just my observations.
  • Smirking aside, the FOF as pointed out by this thread is extremely one-sided towards the argument of the DoJ. While the stock market may rock and roll on Monday, many companies will actually see their stock go up. Who? MS competitors and the various companies that were portrayed as being negatively affected by MS actions. Some of these companies are rather big; IBM, AOL, Sun, Intel.

    I've looked at this thread and the previous one. Many expected reactionary comments abound. I finally finished reading most of the FOF and can say that I'm astounded by the one-sidedness of the this document. It reads like David Boiles or Joe Klein were the authors.

    My final comments. MS loses big time. The FOF essentially says that the MS witnesses had very little credibility. MS stock will initially go down (as it doing now). However, the various media folks (investment experts) will try to stop the bleeding. Investment advisers will also do the same. Both will do this because they did not see this coming.

    Ultimately, all pyramid schemes collapse under their own weight. If MS valuation goes down, then their ability to take a shotgun approach to investing in other companies will come to an end. Carefully watch the Portland AT&T case as MS has staked their claim on the internet connectivity via cable.

  • First of all the Dow Jones Industrial Average may be hit, but that isn't going to stop this judge.

    Second the findings of FACT are that Microsoft did hurt people, and it lists various forms of damage.

    Third yes, they will get sued to hell and back again. The result of that will cast doubt on the future of their OS and that will help Linux.

    Fourth MSFT's products are also damaging US industries. I am sure we will survive nicely with a little collateral damage.

    And the biggest point that you have missed in your FUD is that the tone of the article most certainly indicates that lowering the application barrier is a likely goal of the outcome. And *THAT* is something that we all look forward to!

  • Vote [] exactly what you believe.


  • by tilly ( 7530 ) on Friday November 05, 1999 @06:05PM (#1558037)
    The judge ruled, as a finding of fact, that Microsoft is a monopoly and has maintained that monopoly through anti-competitive behaviour that resulted in collateral damage to customers, consumers, and third parties.

    And this is not "naughty" behaviour? These facts completely suffice to determine that Microsoft has violated US law. The facts as stated open up further ground, for instance many companies could - Monday - file a lawsuit against Microsoft for costs incurred due to web browsing on computers that had browsers installed for no good reason.

    HP could sue for increased support costs. It only takes 3 support calls before an OEM is no longer makes a profit. They had the lowest support calling rate in the business (better than Apple's) until Microsoft forced them to use a crappy boot sequence.

    IBM could sue, WOW could they sue!

    And, of course, AOL owns Netscape. They could *definitely* sue.

    Plus this will help the Caldera case (even though Dr. DOS took place before the events covered in the document).

    I am looking for a lot of lawsuits. And they will be for big - as in 8-9 digit figures - chunks of change.


  • I remember the Borland formerly known as Inprise formerly known as Borland.

    They get It(tm) and have for many years. With the annoucement of Kylix (RAD for Linux), they continue to get It(tm). I hope that there is a major benefit for them in all this as I use and admire Delphi on a daily basis. They make Windows bearable, a tough feat for any software company.

    btw, there have been several /. articles on Borland recently. Try a search to see how many people "remember" Borland.

  • Interestingly enough, it took me 4 1/2 hours to read the entire document. I guess I must be slow because of all the responses I see posted at 7:30 pm.

    Sigh.. Anyway, one of the points, in fact the main point that the judge brings up in his documentation is the fact that Microsoft did this because it was scared. Not scared of a browser or that people could use the browser to view web pages, but the fact that the browser allowed access to api's that would make program written on it write once and run anywhere. And yes I am purposely using java's motto, because the judge does.

    Java and Navigator both made api's available to programmers allowing other programs to be designed on the top of their systems. This was not bad in microsoft's view. What was bad was that these programs who run on other OS's without having to do significant revisions. Porting would be simple. And that is why Microsoft attacked them.

    Other companies are mentioned, but the major topic was Microsoft's, specifically Bill's decision, that Netscape was a competitor. Almost the entire article then shows how Microsoft set about to destroy them. Always stopping just short of being illegal, or at least usually stopping, but the intent was there and that is what he is showing.

    Specifically, that by Microsoft attempting to protect it's marketshare has had a negative effect on innovation and customer worth. Going so far as to say that customers where forced to upgrade to 98 to get new hardware support but also receiving and inferrior (sp?) product.

    This is paraphasing of course.

    I do agree with other posts, this judge has Microsoft nailed. He gets it.

    I want to tell everyone that the language is not technical (legaleze) it's very readable. Definately tech, but this judge wants everyone to understand what is going on and he make a dam* good presentation of the facts that anyone can understand or at least get the guist of.

    He clears Microsoft of a couple of charges but does basically say that Microsoft is a monopoly and has used it's position to unfairly influence the market to retain that position.

    Other than that, I was astounded at complexity of Microsoft's plan. I can see why they figured they could walk circles around the judge, they are very, very slick. As a matter of fact I have a whole new appreciation for Bill. He is incredibly intellegent and has a few good people working for him. I can see that he has some normal executives, but he and the sharp ones are the ones that control the company.

    I wouldn't mind having some of that knowledge. Being a tech though I pretty much say things as they are and try to be fair. Probably why I am saddled with a money losing business, which don't get me wrong I love, and Gates is the riches man in the world at least until Monday.


  • For people coming in late now, maybe you'll see this mirror: here []
  • by Barbarian ( 9467 ) on Friday November 05, 1999 @03:26PM (#1558047)
    It's obviously to avoid stock market chaos. Now we have a weekend to analyze this, and people will talk about it. So on Monday, when MSFT goes down 10 or 20 points, it won't drag the rest of the market with this.
  • I actually dont mind the Windows OS and am glad they integrated the browser into Windows.

    Then you're an idiot, because it's extra baggage for a machine that doesn't need IE installed -- say, a machine that's not going to be connected to the Internet. (Those do exist, you know; I have six of them.)

    Some people will start screaming Mac, Mac, Mac but I cannot easily replace a chip in a Mac to make it a bit faster, a faster modem is 3 times the cost of a PC, RAM costs much more, a video card is outrageously priced, etc....

    Out of curiosity, do you think it would be that way if Mac had, say, a 40% market share on desktops instead of 10% or whatever it is?

    I will be the first to admit that Apple hasn't made the smartest business decisions, but Jackson nailed at least one of MS'c crimes on the head; Apple very likely would not be endorsing or installing MSIE now if Microsoft didn't threaten to kill off MS Office.

    I do not agree with allot of the judges "finding of facts" and I really believe this huge waste of my damn tax dollars should never have begun.

    Are you just assuming that Jackson made all of this stuff up? News reports of the coverage showed the DOJ's lawyers utterly (and rightfully) destroying the credibility of Microsoft's "experts". As for poor, defenseless MS, no one put a gun to their head and made them submit a forged video demonstration as evidence, put their CEO on the stand unable to withstand cross-examination, or buy "independant studies" and "grassroots support from the little people".

    Microsoft has played dirty pool every step of the way of its existence, up to and including its handling of the trial. It's about time someone called them on the carpet for it.

    I sometimes build computers for people that have never used a computer. It is much easier for them to start the computer, click on the big globe, dial up to the Internet and then surf around for a while and that is who most of the users are. They may change their desktop to put a picture of their kids on it, but that is about it.

    Great. More power to you. I have no problem with MS having a monopoly because their stuff is better, cheaper, or easier to use than any alternatives; if I recall, the Sherman Act protects such "natural monopolies". The problem, is, it's not better, cheaper, or easier to use, at least not in every case.

    If I install a Linux OS on their computer, it is going to be nearly impossible for them to get help with problems with their computer and they are going to call me. If they have Windows, they can usually get tips/tricks/help from people they work with, friends, family, etc. They are not going to want to get into IRC or newsgroups to solve problems.

    And this would be that "positive network effect" that Jackson was speaking of.

    39. Consumer demand for Windows enjoys positive network effects. A positive network effect is a phenomenon by which the attractiveness of a product increases with the number of people using it. The fact that there is a multitude of people using Windows makes the product more attractive to consumers. The large installed base attracts corporate customers who want to use an operating system that new employees are already likely to know how to use, and it attracts academic consumers who want to use software that will allow them to share files easily with colleagues at other institutions. The main reason that demand for Windows experiences positive network effects, however, is that the size of Windows' installed base impels ISVs to write applications first and foremost to Windows, thereby ensuring a large body of applications from which consumers can choose. The large body of applications thus reinforces demand for Windows, augmenting Microsoft's dominant position and thereby perpetuating ISV incentives to write applications principally for Windows. This self-reinforcing cycle is often referred to as a "positive feedback loop."

    Now I understand that if I took the time to show them how to compile a piece of software, or modify their path or mount drives, etc, they wouldnt need to find help or call me all the time, but face it, the average user does not want to know how to do this, they want to point and click and Windows has done a fairly good job at this.

    I have no problem with Microsoft doing all of that work (or Apple, for that matter); to make a program "intelligent" or "intuitive" often means a lot of work on the part of the programmers.

    The Mac is much simplier but the cost of a Mac and the upgrade ability over shadows its ease of use to most people.

    Again, we're back to "positive network effects" and economies of scale; it's likely that Windows peripherals might cost more and Mac peripherals might cost less were the PC desktop market more like 60%/40%.

    Look at the cosumer market for other products. The clapper for example. How many times have we made fun of that commercial? I actually know a few people that bought it. Bread machines are another example. People want the smell, taste and texture of fresh bread, but they dont want to spend the time rolling the dough, letting it rise and then baking it. They want to open the packets, dump the ingredients in and then go watch soaps.

    Again, you're missing the point. I have no problem with Microsoft having a monopoly on operating systems, and keeping that monopoly by having a flat-out better product.

    But the problem is, antitrust legislation doesn't allow you to use a monopoly in one market (Intel-based PCs operating systems) as leverage to get a monopoly in another market (in this case, web browsers). At the time MS was trying to crush Netscape, it did not have the better product.

    Now as far as browsers go, I prefer IE over Netscape.

    That's your right.

    I have less problems with IE than I do with Netscape. They both crash just as often, but rendering HTML is better in IE.

    Which can probably be chalked up to Netscape not putting a new or updated version of their browser out in what, a couple of YEARS? Yes, I know and hope that Mozilla will kick IE's ass when it's done. The thing is, it's not done, and people have to surf the web now as well in the future. (Which was the whole point of Microsoft's mission in the first place; once everyone is using MSIE and IIS to serve the "dynamic content" you extend protocols like you're rotating shield frequencies on the Enterprise to keep everyone else playing catch-up.)

    I believe if there was a better solution out there for your average person to use easily, it would blow Windows out of the water, but it has yet to arrive.

    And if the yet-to-arrive product weren't Open Source, Microsoft would probably have tried to buy or otherwise drive the maker out of business. How long do you think the makers of Opera and iCab for the Mac would have lasted if this trial weren't going on, or (even worse) Microsoft had not been found at fault?

    The chip industry is a prime example. How long did Intel rule the world for processors?

    Now that AMD has come out with lower cost, faster chips they are giving Intel a hell of a run for their money. I love that!!! That's the american way.

    Again, it's apples and oranges. The rules for physical products and intangible products (one could say "intellectual property") are different for a reason.

    That is what we need, competition, not the tax wasting government to tell us/MS they are a monopoly on the desktop. DUH! We know that!

    That's not what they're telling us, dolt. They're telling us that Microsoft is using its monopoly power to make sure it has a monopoly on everything else that isn't nailed down or on fire.

    As another poster pointed out (I want to find a source for that story!) an oil/steel/banking consortium was able to amass so much power at its time that the head of that consortium was practically in a position to replace the Federal Government!

    Now, instead of being owned by Standard Oil, it'd be people logging onto Microsoft WorldNet with Microsoft Passport on Microsoft Internet Explorer to use Microsoft's BillPay Wizard to pay the bills to Microsoft Interactive Cable Network and Microsoft Office Application Distribution Service, and to check your Hotmail account just in time to get the weekly coupons from Microsoft Grocery Service, and Microsoft/

    If we would have spent the tax dollars on further developing linux or BeOS and making it easier to use than Windows and make it free for computer manufacturers to OEM it on the new PC's,

    You are aware the the BeOS is a proprietary product, right? Are you saying that you think it would be okay for the government to subsidize a private corporation to compete with Microsoft? Or that the feds should subsidize the cost of bundling it on PCs? That would be less of an intrusion into the private sector then finding Microsoft guilty of commiting crimes under antitrust law?

    Hey Redhat 6.1 came with XMMS instead of X11AMP. I am going to sue Redhat because it did not include my favorite MP3 player. You're bad RH. You're evil!

    Now we're comparing apples to bananas. It's a fact of antitrust legislation that the kind of things corporations can do to gain or keep market share are illegal for a corporation that is found to be a monopoly to do.

    If Red Hat wants to agree to bundle a product or a service made by another company to the mutual benefit of both, that's one thing. I don't even think there'd be a case if Microsoft had made a strategic alliance with Netscape against a third party (say Opera had come along 5 years earlier) because in theory Netscape can end that alliance or Opera might make Microsoft a better deal.

    And of course, we're ignoring the whole Open Source factor; anyone can take Red Hat's installer, RPM package manager and other GPLed goodies and build a Red Hat-style distribution that uses X11AMP instead of XMMS (or KDE instead of GNOME, tcsh over bash, pine over mutt, yadda yadda yadda), and let the better distribution win.

    Think of Windows as a car. You get pissed at, kick it, hit it and scream at it sometimes, but would you rather ride a horse or walk?

    Not the same thing at all. You're supposing that there is an alternative to Windows that we could switch to on Intel-based PCs. There was in OS/2, but the trial is full of tidbits on how Microsoft killed off that competition by means other than having the better product. I suspect that BeOS was/is next...

    If you dont like the color of your living room, you paint it, you dont go sue the house builder because you soon realized that the color of the wall clashed with the window treaments you decided to buy.

    You do if the house builder makes you sign a contract before your house is built that says you can't repaint your house, knock out walls, add an extra room later for a nursery, or sell the house without the house builder's approval; and you have no choice because he's forced all of the other house builders in the area out of business or hired them to work for him.

    Dont go suing them because you think linux is better or you wanted Netscape instead of IE.

    Thanks for demonstrating that you have no idea what this case was about. It was about a company using its time, money and resources to prevent you from having as little choice as possible as to which OS your home PC uses (soon to be followed by web browser, streaming media format, office suite, and who knows what else in the future?)

    The development of Linux and the Open Source model may have been the one force that Microsoft could not have bought, put out of business or FUDed into oblivion. Then again, the "Halloween Document" outlined out a strategy to deal with that as well...

    Jay (=
  • No, now bill will have to play by a much more restrictive set of rules than everyone else does. Everyone else has the freedom to add new features, and the freedom to tell people "don't like it, don't buy it." Gates doesn't.

    No, now Bill won't be able to prevent everyone else from playing by the same rules they play. They innovate, and will always have the right too. However, they have prevented other companies from innovating in areas that Microsoft controls. Now, the other companies will once again have the freedom to innovate, just like Microsoft does.

    This is what we all want, isn't it?

  • ...surely the laws you have in America provide you with adequate rights to appeal?

    Since I take it you're not an American, a brief civics lesson:

    Suppose I am tried and convicted of something... I have every right to appeal, but:

    The appeals court has every right to refuse to hear the appeal. Appeals get refused all the time in this country -- all the way up to the Supreme Court, which only hears those cases it chooses to rule on. (Or those in which it has original jurisdiction, but that's another matter entirely).

    This is my opinion and my opinion only. Incidentally, IANAL.

  • I have to say, this thing rocks. Here's the super-abridged version:

    Guns are dangerous.
    Microsoft has a big gun in it's hand.
    The gun is smoking.
    There are many empty shells on the floor.
    There are many bloody bodies around (netscape,sun,ibm)
    Many companies have been terrorize by Microsoft, when they point the gun at them.
    Most give in.
    Some don't, and pay dearly for their actions.
    In then end, Consumers end up both paying for the ammo, and picking up the pieces.
    This is wrong, and something should be done about it.

    *sniff* It's almost enough to make me believe that perhaps that sometimes our legal system can work right. This almost makes up for all the times it has personally let me down - well, almost.

    Judge Jackson should get a medal for just being able to comprend the complexity of the allegations. My head started to swim when I got knee deep in the OEM/ISP/Browser War testimony.

    This case is over - once MS's lawyers look closely at the wording and the coesiveness of this FoF, they will see that there is no way they are going to prevail. I predict a settlement within a month.
  • I'd argue that the good judge gave a better
    definition of a network computer than
    Larry Ellison ever did. He has also given
    the reference definition of what an
    operating system is, so further legal cases
    could start from it.
    The first half of his ruling should be part
    of an orientation for CS majors.
  • Heck, the stock of Microsoft's competitors (Sun, Corel, IBM, Red Hat, etc) may go up as a result of this.

  • This is now a "fact". I don't think this is true in the slightest. I don't think MS's customers would put up with a significant rise in it's prices.

    That's different from what the judge said. He said "a price for Windows substantially above that which could be charged in a competitive market", which they are charging. The cost of computers have gone done (in nominal terms) about 50% in the last 2 years, yet the cost of Windows stay the same. In a competive market, the price would go down (ok, it's possible it would go up because of that whole complimentary product thing, but that's negligible compared to this). It is a great enigma why the price stays the same. But MS says "No. We're not budging". So even though the price hasn't gone up, it is an example of what Judge Jackson is talking about.
  • Can we ask this lawyer about the issues involved in a Linux software-only DVD decoder?
  • Hmmm... I wonder if there's any chance of Windows 2000 being delayed past Feb 17th 2000.

    I suppose the only way it could be is if MS and the DOJ settle- 'cause if it's dragged through the court systems, there'll be years of appeals before any "penalty" or "remedy" occurs- even if it gets fast tracked to the Supreme Court like the AT&T case.

    I wonder if Microsoft has an IE-less version of Win2K waiting in the wings in case of a settlement. While I'm an avid Linux user, I've also been anticipating the arrival of Win2K and would hate to see a delay.

    Anyway, I think we've already seen MS's competitors become more brave since the trial began. One example is that there are quite a few companies standing (meekly?) behind Linux. I hope they'll stand taller now.

    I hope in five years, we'll be able to look back on Win2K as Microsoft's swan song from a monopolist OS vendor point of view.
  • The judge ruled, as a finding of fact, that Microsoft is a monopoly and has maintained that monopoly through anti-competitive behaviour that resulted in collateral damage to customers, consumers, and third parties.

    Yet this is only a finding of fact, and not yet a legal victory. There will be another round of the trial where punishment is to be decided. Microsoft will have to prove that they although they have a monopoly, they don't deserve punishment because they didn't abuse it in an illegal manner.

    Plus this will help the Caldera case (even though Dr. DOS took place before the events covered in the document).

    Caldera's case is kind of on shakey ground, IMHO, because they didn't own DR-DOS during a time where it would have mattered. They bought DR-DOS only after it was fairly clear that DR-DOS wasn't a viable product anymore. But #include <ianal_disclaimer.h>

  • Except that it costs more... Microsoft needs this two tiered pricing structure to bring in more revenue. One product that is priced towards consumers and one that will be sold to businesses- who are willing to pay more $$$. (this is not a rant or anything... simply true)

    Well, MSFT will actually be offering an "upgrade" price for existing Windows 98 users (I think $175 or something) but you're right: the two-tiered system is designed to generate more revenue.
  • I'm sure thats what Jackson was thinking when he siad that "a price for Windows substantially above that which could be charged in a competitve market." The point you make the price of Windows not going down is valid: in fact, this point was brought up by Jackson himself in the trial (no I don't have a link, but I do remember reading about it on

    Also note that other software prices, including Microsoft's own prices, have gone down with the industry. When Microsoft bundled all the applications together that make up Microsoft Office, they essentially lowered the price on word, excel, etc., in order to compete with its competition of the day (Lotus and WordPerfect). Now that Office dominates the market, the price of Office has actually gone up. (Office 97 is more expensive than Office 95 was, but I'm not sure if Office 2000 is more expensive than 97, but even if its the same price, my point has been made. Incidentally, Access used to be a $100 upgrade to Office, and now its a $200 upgrade)

  • breaking up Microsoft into different companies may not be punishment on the long term

    I agree. Microsoft or it's spawn is going to continue to be big. Contrary to most people's thinking, their stockholders are not going to lose a penny. BUT MS WON'T BE AS BIG AS THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN OTHERWISE.

    AT&T doesn't have the market share they used to have. MCI Worldcom is a worthy foe and may become more so if the FTC lets them acquire Sprint. IBM is huge, but they have a small fraction of the PC business. The Standard Oil companies have competitors like Shell and BP, as well as infighting amoung the 34 units the original was broken into.

    What is going to happen is that whatever remidy happens Microsoft will gain serious competitors. One way or another. Which will be great for all of us.

  • Same end result, two different mechanisms. One of which you favor.

    Building added functionality into the operating system is not the issue. The issue is Microsoft coming out with their own version of a proxy server and then threatening Dell that they are going to withold their Windows license if they don't preload their server and only their server along with Windows. Or if they call up Apple and say "we'll cancel Mac Office if you don't preload our Mac proxy server, and deep six your own version for Windows."

    If all Microsoft did was product innovation The Judge would have not ruled that Microsoft engaged in predatory practices.

    paragraph 93 ... "It is Microsoft's corporate practice to pressure other firms to halt software development that either shows the potential to weaken the applications barrier to entry or competes directly with Microsoft's most cherished software products."

    This has nothing to do with Microsoft developing better products and everything with Microsoft hurting the computer industry and consumers by trying to restrain innovation for their own benefit.

    It's high time someone put an end to this charade and put a little more competition back into the PC market.

  • The stockmarket will probably reward tech stocks for this, consider the following:

    Microsoft has a huge P/E ratio (price to earning ratio) meaning the ratio of its worth to its earnings is insane...

    this decision, in the minds of the stock brokers, means that revenue is going to shift between MS and other companies.

    But those other companies have lower P/E rations, and hence for less money down, you get more of the profit... this is a good thing...

    and when people compete for stocks, stocks rise.

    when stocks rise, people buy them for their own sake. Yes this can be taken too far, but also realize that there are a lot of undervalued stocks in the tech industry.

    For example (mind that I am a linux user) Be Inc.

    Be is the prime example of a company that stands to win as a result of this decision. So will the clueful analysts attest. The clueless ones will not understand that there is a huge gap between standing to win and winning, and will buy the stock anyway...

    but then again, just like the stock market, everything I said here is pure speculation

    We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars --Oscar Wilde
  • We lose. We have been manipulated and robbed. In the name of innovation Microsoft has taken every action available to them to kill innovation. Slick marketing campaigns endlessly spew rhetoric which have now been shown to be lies.

    Empirical Evidence of the Applications Barrier to Entry...
    Empirical Evidence of Microsoft's attempts to kill innovation....

    Are these actions taken by a company with the consumers best interests at heart? Are these the actions taken by a company with integrity ??? Integrity would be the opposite of Microsoft. Some of their products are good, but unfortunately this has only helped them to victimize consumers.

    "Microsoft's actual pricing behavior is consistent with the proposition that the firm enjoys monopoly power in the market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems."

    "Microsoft thus opted for the higher price."

    Why ??? because they had a better product ? No, because they are a monopoly. No longer will the argument that people use Windows because it's superior hold any weight.
  • I may be wrong on this, but the judge ruled that Microsoft was a monopoly. As much as we'd like it to be, that's not illegal- case law has shown that companies are perfectly within their rights to attain a monopoly as long as they do it competitivaly, which M$ will now be trying VERY hard to prove that they did. This judge was authorized to rule on findings of fact, which was basically limited to whether or not M$ was a monopoly or not, NOT whether it was an illegal monopoly or not. That gets decided later, and a different question of law. So even if this ruling implies that Microsoft was "naughty" the judge isn't yet empowered to legally rule on that (he can say so all he wants, but that's not the ruling, just like Supreme Court justices go on and on about things that may not bear on their actual findings).
  • But Jackson also ruled that Microsoft abused it's monopoly power. So it IS a "naughty" ruling. he can rule anything he wants, but because it was a finding of fact, not criminality, it isn't itself the deathblow ruling or sentancing. That may be much more certain now, but still not assured.
  • Uh, so why are you insulting me- we aren't disagreeing. All I'm saying is that unlike what Don implies, this is NOT the deathblow ruling from the government as a matter of illegal monopoly law. As you note though, it makes filing and winning civil lawsuits against M$ much much much easier, because their monopoly is no longer a legal matter of argument. Think of that- they CANNOT make the argument in court that they aren't a monopoly! If they so much as hint that they aren't the judge can rebuke them on the spot! That's like OJ not being able to claim that he wasn't in the house when his wife was killed. This will hurt them a lot.
  • IT's actually not likely that the Supreme Court would hear this case. Finding of fact, and... can you name the constitutional issue involved? I can, but they're all heavily in favor of a ruling against Microsoft... Unless Rehnquist is feeling REALLY cocky.
  • Html [] 399Kb
    Zip [] 120Kb
    Rar [] 109 Kb

  • by alexalexis ( 31082 ) <> on Friday November 05, 1999 @04:10PM (#1558127)

    In my second paragraph I used the word "illegally" .. it shouldn't be there -- this is just a Finding of Fact. Of course, one could deduce that Microsoft's actions are illegal (especially regarding the licensing issues), but this was not a legal ruling on the case.

    Sorry if I caused any confusion.

  • by alexalexis ( 31082 ) <> on Friday November 05, 1999 @03:40PM (#1558128)

    I've read the first hundred pages of the FoF, and Judge Jackson really does get it. He spells out very clearly what Microsoft has done, how Microsoft did it, and why it's an abuse of monopoly power. He clearly spells out their position in the market relative to other operating systems. He goes to great lengths to define the difference between the OS, applications, and APIs.

    In summary, he states that Microsoft illegally used it's control over the operating system market to gain advantage over Netscape and Sun in regards to the web browser and java runtime environment markets, through restrictive licensing agreements and deliberately smearing the line between application and operating system. (That is my understanding thus far -- there are quite a few smaller issues that he touches on)

    I know a lot of people are going to read the press clippings that are saturated with some pretty charged statements from both Microsoft and the Judge Jackson. Unfortunately, they really don't give a good representation of the FoF, which is not only an easy read, but a very enlightening one.

    I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU READ THE FIRST 25 PAGES OF THE FoF. Educate yourself before you become a victim of the avalanche of spin doctoring that's going to consume the media for the next week.

  • by cloos ( 31168 ) on Friday November 05, 1999 @03:46PM (#1558131) Homepage

    Note the the GPO site [] has not only PDF [] and WP [] but also HTML [] versions of the Findings up.

    It May be a bit easier for some to read....


  • Maybe we users can start some nice class action suits against M$. Anyone have ulcers from having to support Windows at work? Not gotten a job because the company wanted your resume in M$ Word format?

    Oh Yeah, sell all your Microsoft Stock and invest it in some Law Firms.
  • This ruling will change the world. But not very soon.

    There will be (probably) years of legal wrangling before it's all over, but I don't think the key points (Microsoft is a monopoly and has abused it's position) can be seriously challenged.

    My (extremely limited) understanding of the law is that the US Government now must (after appeals) do something to ensure that Microsoft doesn't abuse it's position again.

    My bet is that the company will be broken up into at least three companies (Operating systems, Office applications and 'other stuff')

    Before that happens, however, there is a good chance that the MS share price will collapse. Given that most MS employees are strongly motivated by stock options, this will make it hard for them to retain good people and hire new ones. This could lead to a very rapid vicious circle.

    The next week will be very interesting.

    Feed the hungry. Save the Whales. Free the mallocs.
  • You know, when the DoJ came after Standard Oil and formally Got Some, they had to break 'em into little companies, because there wasn't anybody else out there willing and able to move oil like they could.
    When the DoJ came after Bell Telephony and Got Some, they "had" to break them up, because nobody else had phone lines laid.
    But the issue HERE -- the monopoly -- is held mainly by intellectual property -- code.

    Oil tankers and miles of copper wiring aren't amenable to easy division and distrobution, but this is INFORMATION, guys.

    What all might happen if the judge simply ordered MS to hand over all their IP -- API documentation, say -- and order MS to publish/post it under some license -- I'll let you guys argue about which one, but my favorite rhymes with "EPL".
    He could even let MS off the hook for the [possible] zillion-dollar fine in exchange for prettying it all up and posting it on a web server.

    Wouldn't -that- be fun. The WINE people would have heart attacks. (:
  • Brief note on document formats:
    People are commenting on the fact that a Word
    copy of the document was not provided, while
    Wordperfect, PDF and HTML were.

    Most legal documents submitted in electronic
    format have to be submitted in WordPerfect format.
    It was the industry standard for many years,
    and the document format has been stable for
    at least the last three releases of the software.

    My mother is a paralegal, and she whines on a
    daily basis about the fact that there is such
    a tremendous intertia within the legal community
    that is centered on WordPerfect 5 for DOS and
    WordPerfect 6 for Windows. She uses a 300MHz
    Pentium II to run WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS every
    day. The lawyers she work for say it's the only
    thing they can use.

    I'm not sure why that inertia exists, but at
    least where I live, if you hand the court a
    floppy disk, it'd better have a wordperfect file
    on it. Everything else is simply unacceptable.
  • Nearly everyone agrees that the economy runs best when left to itself. It's notional that it can run without any interference from government. The government is inextricably involved in the infrastructure of people, cash, communications, and law that make the economy possible.

    If someone runs a protection racket, do you suggest that an insurance company with lower rates will solve the problem naturally -- and without government intervention? No, of course not, because a free economy can't work if force distorts it's feedback mechanism. That's the government's role - to keep the playing field force free, even, and open to new entrants -- so that the quality of businesses and products determine their success.

    Microsoft had used its leverage to effectively close the OEM distribution channels to alternate OSes. Did they leverage the quality and cost-effectiveness of Windows? No, they used threats based on their monopoly. The judge argued very well, and correctly in my opinion, that this was an unfair barrier to competition. It's an application of force that distorts the natural result of the market. No one else gains any advantage at all from the closure of distribution channels for non-Microsoft software.

    I hope the penalty phase takes into account the real problem here -- that competition is being skewed. It isn't being distorted because Microsoft is so large and monolithic, it is due to the anti-competitive, bullying business practices they engage in, made effective by their marketshare. I would very much like to see a behavioral remedy that prevented Microsoft from engaging in wide acquisitions, exclusionary deals, closed APIs, or proprietary formats.
  • by slag187 ( 70401 ) <> on Friday November 05, 1999 @03:36PM (#1558199) Homepage
    This ruling has a chance to finally level the playing field.

    Many of us are Linux and/or *BSD users. We've known for quite a while that we have a technically superior OS in many ways. There are also others like BeOS that are trying to compete on the ease of use of their OS.

    All I would like to see is enough change instituted so that the playing field can finally be leveled, so that all users can chooses the operating systems and applications that suit their needs and tastes. (Thinking in terms of punishment is the right thing, because that doesn't necessarily change their future behaviour.)

    Hopefully we can also see a movement to better embrace ISO, IETF, W3C, etc standards so that me using Linux, and you using Be, and someone else using Windows2005 can all share info, etc.

    Now's the time to push for real positive change and not just see how much money we can bleed away from MS (although I'm sure that will happen too).
  • {shrug} Their loss.

    It's *theoretically* possible that they honestly believe that they haven't violated the law, but that may not be the most expedient way to go compared to a Clintonesque response -- "We did wrong, we're sorry, and let's move on."

    If they stonewall, and this drags on and depresses the stock price, I wonder if any lawyers would pounce.
  • by Stonehand ( 71085 ) on Friday November 05, 1999 @03:35PM (#1558201) Homepage
    Not if it gets to the Supreme Court, it won't be.

    It's probably not in MSFT's interests to be fighting this for that long, either, if they can get a settlement that'll end speculation over what the judicial system *might* do; and the DoJ lawyers would get to go home pointing to winning results in a *very* big case. Eh, guess we'll see.
  • There is an important reason Word loses out here: its word-count function is implemented in a manner incompatible with the needs of legal briefs.

    I remember seeing something a few months ago to the effect that a US court was discouraging use of Word and preferring WordPerfect for legal briefs. The court went so far as to specially re-count any brief written in Word, 'cause some such briefs wound up over-length and got bounced.

    It seems that for legal briefs, which have rigid word-count limitations, page headers/footers count toward the total, but tables of contents don't. (I may have a detail wrong here, so caveat lector!)

    Word doesn't let you count the headers/footers if you word-count a text selection (as one would do to exclude the TOC); that option gets grayed out when you select a block of text.

    Wordperfect, on the other hand, apparently allows the necessary flexibility in word counting to accommodate the special needs of legal briefs.

    (Even MS own law firm uses WordPerfect, according to The REGISTER,

    It's interesting how a major product like Word fouls up on a major market segment like lawyers. Just another tiny niche market, I guess.
  • But Jackson also ruled that Microsoft abused it's monopoly power. So it IS a "naughty" ruling.
  • "If I install a Linux OS on their computer, it is going to be nearly impossible for them to get help with problems with their computer and they are going to call me. If they have Windows, they can usually get tips/tricks/help from people they work with, friends, family, etc. They are not going to want to get into IRC or newsgroups to solve problems. " This is a DIRECT result of Microsoft's monopoly. If nobody used Windows do you think it'd be easy to get support for? If Windows had the user-population of Linux and vice-versa you'd be installing Linux on the newbies' computers for the same reason. There's nothing inherent to the OS that means there's support available. It's because of MS's monopoly. And you're playing into it perfectly. They've positioned themselves so Joe Public will say "Well everyone's using Windows so if i use Linux my freinds can't help me." That's what this ruling is about. They've made it so you, when installing OSes on the computers of newbies, have NO CHOICE about the OS to install.
  • Metcalfe said it would happen on November 8th.

    *They* don't call it Black Monday for nuthin'.

    Actually, anyone serious about investing will buy and hold for a long period of time - say 10 to 15 years or more. MS even broken up will probably continue to generate high rates of return for stockholders even after taking an inital, short-term hit in its stock price.

  • Why does everyone bring the economy into this? There have been monopolies broken up before. We got through it just fine.

  • Although my predition is that M$ will attempt to settle by providing discounts on future M$ products

    I agree that Microsoft will try to settle now. It is the only sensible option, unless they really want to spend more in legal fees and then wind up paying out to the consumer anyways. The whole point of a settlement is to avoid greater cost in the long run.

    Having said that, why would the Government accept a settlement offer? The judge clearly favors the prosecution's case, and the government would probably do better letting the judge decide the penalty than if MS tries to strike a comprimise.

    The government won't settle, it has nothing to lose.


  • Redundancy plus: An FoF mirror with navigation [] or download plain text [].

    Reference Don's paragraph cites in a flash, dot.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.