MozillaZine

Microsoft and Federal Government Reach Tentative Settlement

Wednesday October 31st, 2001

MSNBC is reporting that Microsoft has reached a tentative settlement with the Federal Government. The deal calls for a 5 year consent decree that forces Microsoft to release Windows without a variety of currently bundled programs like Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger, and Windows Media Player.

As you may know, the US Government has had consent decrees before, and Microsoft has completely ignored them, we feel. As in the past, we expect the version of Windows without the bundled packages to be almost identical in price to the current version of Windows. The last major question remaining is whether the State Attorneys General agree with the deal. We hope they do not, and push for much harsher punishment.


#1 How does this help?

by thelem

Thursday November 1st, 2001 1:51 AM

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If you are offered a product on its own, or a product with lots of free stuff included that you would otherwise have had to download, which will you choose?

I don't think anyone can argue that the bundling of IE makes it easier for individual users, but that doesn't take into account the overall effect of the bundling on market share.

I don't see OEMs going for it either - they would not want to upset Microsoft.

#2 Stable Full Interfaces

by pallando <dreay@uk.mathworks.com>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 4:27 AM

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IF Microsoft provide a version of windows without a built in web browser, and allow companies like gateway to sell new PCs with pre-installed and configured windows + netscape

THEN I have no problem with Microsoft being allowed to also ship a version of windows that comes bundled with their own web browser for the same price

PROVIDED THAT 1. Microsoft\\\'s own browser does not use any interfaces that are not published and made available to all other browser producers.

AND 2. These interfaces are kept stable and supported - not ditched or altered as soon as someone uses one in a way that IE does not.

#3 Arrgh!

by pauljs <pauljamessmith@netscape.net>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 4:48 AM

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Talk about getting off lightly. For all the damage they've caused to the competition they need a lot more severe punishment.

This is like: telling a murderer that they've gotta agree for 5 years not to murder, a burgular prmising not to steal for 5 years, etc

Anyway if you're from the US write to whatever you call MP's over there ;)

#8 Re: Arrgh!

by tny

Thursday November 1st, 2001 10:59 AM

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No point. 1. They (Representatives and Senators, our rough analogues of MPs, though it's a very rough analogy) make a policy of ignoring email. 2. They aren't getting their snail mail thanks to the anthrax scares. 3. They don't have the kind of direct control over the executive that parliamentary democracies have (US system is VERY different from the parliamentary system: for instance, in the Senate, the controlling party is the Democratic, while the House and the Administration are Republican; the Judicial, too, though partisan politics in the Judicial branch is a recent, unacknowledged development). In my state, where the Attorney General is directly elected, and mail isn't held up for a week while it's irradiated, we can maybe affect state policy more easily than federal policy. 4. Most of the folks who'd agree fought Ashcroft's nomination anyway, so we'd be preaching to the choir or the pit. 5. Noone wants to get caught up in a big partisan brawl in the middle of a war.

#23 fax them instead....

by frogg

Thursday November 1st, 2001 7:47 PM

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I agree with the valid points you make in your post, but you could try faxing them instead of emailing or snail-mailing them.

A fax is nearly as good as a letter in a lot of cases - it's certainly more likely to get a reply than an email.

hth

#4 Unbundling isn't the way

by gssq <gabrielseah@hotmail.com>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 7:19 AM

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I don't really see the point of offering two versions of Windows.

Is what they mean allowing IE to be a removable component like, say, Dial Up Networking?

I don't care if IE is bundled in Windows. I just want to be able to remove it so it doesn't clog my system! Forcing it down our throats is how it's anti-competitive.

#5 You can do it in WindowsXP already

by arsa

Thursday November 1st, 2001 9:11 AM

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It does not remove the component of course, but the IE icon does disappear.

#20 Re: You can do it in WindowsXP already

by cyd

Thursday November 1st, 2001 6:20 PM

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> It does not remove the > component of course

That's rather the point.

#6 Re: Unbundling isn't the way

by niner

Thursday November 1st, 2001 9:47 AM

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Windows without IE? Sure (nearly ;)) noone needs the browser but many applications just don't work anymore without the IE Active X Plugin. Maybe the GUI could be removed but I'm not sure if this helps much.

There's still Win98 lite without an IE but do all applications work on this?

#9 No, Open Sourcing Windows is the Way

by tny

Thursday November 1st, 2001 11:03 AM

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Note that I mean "open source," the vague term of "give everyone the source code, and your documentation," not Open Source*. Their IP would still be covered as GPL IP is, by copyright law, and competitors in the non-OS markets would have a chance to keep up.

#7 Where is the Penalty?

by SubtleRebel <mark@ky.net>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 9:54 AM

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The courts have decided multiple times that Microsoft has broken the law. When you break the law, you should be punished. How is this any kind of punishment?

Regardless of any future alternative packaging and licensing of Windows, it does not do anything to remedy any of the past damage that Microsoft has done.

If this deal goes through then it MIGHT prevent Microsoft from re-committing SOME of the same illegal practices that they have been found guilty of, but it means that they totally get away with what they have already done.

Microsoft profited because of their illegal business practices. That should not be ignored. This "settlement" does ignore it. At the very least, Microsoft should pay a very large fine to negate the profitablity of ignoring the law.

#12 Re: Where is the Penalty?

by JBassford <jasonb@dante.com>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 12:10 PM

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How about instead of having the government collect a fine, distribute it among the competitors it harmed.

Jason.

#10 Lawyers don't get the technical details

by rgelb <nospam@nospam.com>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 11:30 AM

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I've read that one of the remedies is to force MS to disclose Windows technical info. Now that's a non-remedy, if I've ever seen one. They already publish all windows APIs. There is even a website devoted to it (msdn.microsoft.com).

#11 thanks, america, for voting republican

by strauss

Thursday November 1st, 2001 12:06 PM

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Republicans are historically very hostile to anti-trust prosecution.

#13 Re: thanks, america, for voting republican

by tny

Thursday November 1st, 2001 12:38 PM

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But America didn't vote Republican, did they? Either Florida did, or the Supreme Court did.

Just wanted to make sure that strauss didn't feel all weird because people were agreeing with him . . .

#14 Re: thanks, america, for voting republican

by rickst29 <rickstockton@acer-access.com>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 1:10 PM

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The Americans who had the opportunity to vote (i.e., without their polling places being moved without notice, without vanishing from the registered voters list without explanation, etc.) voted a plurality for the Dems. Of course, a "vote" in some States counts for a lot more than votes in other states (only the votes in Florida really mattered). Dubya "won" via a very strange supreme court decision making process:

Step 1: Since the evidence is so "overwhelming", we'll issue a preliminary injunction in favor of Dubya. (But the vote was only 5 to 4, which doesn't sound overwhelming enough to justify a preliminary decision without even hearing any evidence);

Step 2: When the Dems come to court, we can declare that there's not enough time left for a decision in favor of the plaintiffs to be implemented... 'deciding' in favor of Dubya with no need to listen to any evidence or explain their "decision".

Republicans and Democrates are both historically very friendly to large compaign contributors, and little Stevie Ballmer appears to have gotten his money's worth this time. The same sleazy $$$ (contributed to the Governor, the AG's boss) has already caused one AG to drop out of the suit even though the govt. WON in both District Court and the Court of Appeals.

Thanks for letting me vent a bit. I think that every excess nickel which Micrsoft over-charged Windoz and Office customers after achieving total market domination via illegal acts should be returned as compensation. In addition, M$ should be held financially accountable for the business lost by AOL/Netscape after they used their ill-gotten gains to destroy the competition. In addition, punishment for these acts and the violation of the previous consent decrees should be additional and large. It is an outrage that Dubya directs his AG to reward guilty billionaires for their criminal and despicable violations of law!

America appears to be "the land of the free", but only for its money-laden Aristocracy. If you're in the club, laws don't seem to apply to you.

#15 Re: Re: thanks, america, for voting republican

by tny

Thursday November 1st, 2001 1:17 PM

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[quote]The same sleazy $$$ (contributed to the Governor, the AG's boss) has already caused one AG to drop out of the suit even though the govt. WON in both District Court and the Court of Appeals. [/quote]

In my state, the AG is elected state-wide, not nominated. Frankly, I think it's a good idea.

#17 Advocacy and evangelism made easier!

by bandido

Thursday November 1st, 2001 5:38 PM

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No kidding... you forgot to mention a very "tiny" factua detail ..the famous butterfly ballot that disenfranshised thousands of people who mistankenly vote for Buchannan thinking they had voted for Gore. Bucanna got more votes in that county, and in a very statistically significant way, that cannot be explained by any othe means. Add to that heavily poor and democratic counties were the ones using antiquated voting machines

I guess we will have to live wirh an illegitimate government that cater to the rich the powerful and corporate abusers and polluters for the next 3 1/2 years.

#22 Re: Advocacy and evangelism made easier!

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 6:27 PM

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"Add to that heavily poor and democratic counties were the ones using antiquated voting machines"

What is it with these voting machines? What's wrong with putting little crosses on pieces of paper, eh?

Alex

#42 Re: Re: Advocacy and evangelism made easier!

by gwalla <gwalla@despammed.com>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 1:42 PM

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It wasn't Xes on pieces of paper, it was punching holes in paper. The problem was that the ballots were arranged in a staggered fashion, centered on a vertical line of punch-holes, so an entry looked like this:

------------------------- 0 | Al Gore (democrat) | 0 ------------------------ ------------------------- 0 | Pat Buchanan (nutbar)

The hole to punch was right across from the name of the candidate, but it looked like the line underneath the candidate's name was pointing to the hole. So people who thought they were voting for Gore but followed the line accidentally voted for Buchanan. There were also issues with the ballots not lining up correctly with the hole-punching device.

#44 Re: Re: Re: Advocacy and evangelism made easier!

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 2:06 PM

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I think you misunderstood me. I already knew about the butterfly ballot problem. I was asking why the US uses voting machines in the first place. Why don't they have the voters place crosses on pieces of paper and count them manually? No problems with pregnant chads then.

Alex

#59 Re: Re: Re: Re: Advocacy and evangelism made easier!

by gwalla <gwalla@despammed.com>

Sunday November 4th, 2001 6:45 PM

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Ah, I see. Yeah, I don't know why voting machines are used either. The only explanation I've heard is that it would be expensive to change.

Remember that voting machines aren't used in all districts. Elections are handled by the states, not the federal government, and states generally leave the implementation to individual counties/districts. So some places use punch-cards, some use ScanTrons, some use lever-pulling machines, etc.

#16 Re: Re: thanks, america, for voting republican

by rgelb <nospam@nospam.com>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 3:11 PM

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Look, buddy (aka short-attention span guy), various newspapers went back and recounted the ballot for the entire state (not just 3 dem counties) using every conceivable method (with chads, without chads, pregnant and otherwise). In each case Bush won. So whatever court decided is obviously irrelevant. Pay attention.

#18 Re: Re: Re: thanks, america, for voting republican

by strauss

Thursday November 1st, 2001 5:41 PM

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The US Civil Rights Commission investigation also demonstrated that predominantly African-American areas of Florida were significantly undercounted due to a suspicious pattern of discrimination in electoral support as well as other means of discouraging the vote, which violates the 14th amendment's equal protection clause as well as federal civil rights statutes.

The recounts significantly slimmed the Bush lead in Florida, leaving it around 140 if I recall correctly. The Civil Rights Commission finding showed that the number of black votes illegally discouraged, discarded or dissuaded was larger than that.

Nonetheless, nearly 50% of the voters (which would be something like 25% of the population eligible to vote) did vote Republican, and this incredible stupidity is directly responsible for the willingness of the new DoJ to settle with Microsoft on clearly Gates-friendly terms.

#21 I'm shocked!

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 6:23 PM

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I'm finding myself actually agreeing with strauss! Let's quickly move the debate back to whether open-source software can be as good as commercial software, pronto.

Alex

#27 :-)

by dipa

Friday November 2nd, 2001 12:42 AM

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Kinda weird, I agree with him, too :-) Seriously speaking, it's a fact that the majority of Europeans dislike bush and Republicans.

#28 Re: :-)

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 4:20 AM

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"Seriously speaking, it's a fact that the majority of Europeans dislike bush and Republicans."

You're telling me? It's probably something to do with US politics being far more right-wing than European politics.

Alex

#31 Re: Re: :-)

by tny

Friday November 2nd, 2001 7:26 AM

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Well, strauss, this must have your head spinning: we all agree with you - except for rgelb.

#33 Re

by rgelb <nospam@nospam.com>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 8:21 AM

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>>Well, strauss, this must have your head spinning: we all agree with you - except for rgelb

Well, if feels good to be right, especially when everyone else is wrong :)

#35 I know the feeling! :) (n/t)

by macpeep

Friday November 2nd, 2001 9:08 AM

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.

#37 Re: Re: Re: :-)

by strauss

Friday November 2nd, 2001 10:43 AM

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> Well, strauss, this must have your head spinning: we all agree with you - except for rgelb. <

All part of my nefarious plan, I assure you.

#25 Re: Re: Re: Re: thanks, america, for voting republican

by rgelb <nospam@nospam.com>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 8:56 PM

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Ok, this is how voting works. You come to the polling place, grab a ballot and vote. This actually requires getting out of bed and going to the polling place followed by pressing the chads out of their spots.

Suspicious pattern my ass. Either they have something or they don't. If they did, it would be out in the news.

As far as the 140 votes difference (i think it was actually less than that) goes, it was shown only in one of several possible configurations favorable to Al Gore. In all other cases, Bush had wins with up to 3000 votes. See NY Times for details.

As far as the settlement goes, yeah on the first glance, it seems pretty weak. But, according to the link provided by MozillaZine, MS won't be able to tie browsers, media players and some other stuff into the OS. I think that's reasonable. A $10b fine would have been nice, but oh well.

Furthermore, had it not been for IE kicking in Netscape's teeth, this site along with the Mozilla project would not exist.

#32 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: thanks, america, for voting re

by tny

Friday November 2nd, 2001 7:32 AM

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Two different issues, here: voters in northern Florida in predominantly African-American precincts found literal roadblocks, changes in poll times, police telling them the polls were closed when they weren't, etc. in their way when they tried to vote; voters in southern Florida were too stupid to read their ill-designed ballots. There were also reports of a number of irregularities with regard to voter registration cards (e.g., Republican party operatives fixing registration cards for those Republicans who were too lazy or stupid to fill theirs out correctly, while Democratic operatives were not allowed the same opportunities to fix registration cards for stupid or lazy Democrats). The irregularities in the Florida election were sufficient that had the election taken place in a SA, African, or Asian country, the US likely would have called it suspicious.

All these things were reported; well, not in the Washington Times, of course . . .

That said, the middle of a war ISN'T the time to rehash dirty laundry. We're stuck with them until 2004; we should do what we can to work with them.

#19 Re: Re: thanks, america, for voting republican

by SmileyBen

Thursday November 1st, 2001 6:20 PM

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You forgot the real biggie - and that's that the Supreme Court *has* to justify why there's a federal interest - they aren't just entitled to rule on any court case ever, otherwise there would be no point in having separate states etc.

And I'm certainly not convinced 'We're electing a President, so that's federal' does it... Surely it was a matter for the Floria Supreme court to decide how Florida voted (after all, the point of the electoral college system is to make *states* count as well as pure numbers) or to waste so much time that it didn't even matter...

#43 Re: Re: Re: thanks, america, for voting republican

by gwalla <gwalla@despammed.com>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 1:49 PM

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Check out Vincent Bugliosi's book "The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President" for details on exactly how crooked the whole deal was.

#24 A settlement snag in Microsoft talks

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 8:34 PM

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MSNBC <http://www.msnbc.com/> is reporting <http://www.msnbc.com/news/650754.asp> that the states aren't going to sign the deal and want more time to review it. The article states that many states feel that the deal is too soft on Microsoft.

Alex

#26 A bit narrow, but...

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Thursday November 1st, 2001 9:41 PM

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I think that if this matches the final settlement, it's a lot better than what we've got so far, which has been nothing. Nothing is what we'd continue to get if the case dragged on any longer. In the original order by Jackson, the version of Windows shipped without all the crap in it would have to cost as much less as the percentage of the amount of code that was removed. I'd buy it.

This does nothing to solve the OS monopoly that they have, though, but this case was based not on that monopoly, but the abuse of that monopoly in the browser market. It's a narrow settlement, in a way, but the case scope was narrow, too (too narrow, in my view).

Anyway, I'd be happy if:

A) The government settled and restricts Microsoft B) The states carry the torch and possibly get later, larger restrictions.

Better that than let Microsoft drag the case out another two years with no penalties at all.

James

#29 OPERA OPERA OPERA

by TonyG <tony.gorman@blueyonder.co.Yuk>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 6:02 AM

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Stories of how well Opera is doing from the recent MSN site blocking incident are everywhere.

You would think that Microsoft only blocked Opera - even though they blocked mozilla and indeed NS6 from the Passport sign on site. All quotes on the matter are from Opera. not a sound from Netscape or mozilla.org.

Yet another golden opportunity for great publicity goes to waste.

#61 Some parts of MSN's site are still blocked

by darnell

Monday November 5th, 2001 12:32 PM

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See the MSN Music section at <http://music.windowsmedia.msn.com/> . You still can\'t view it with a non-IE browser. This needs to get some press coverage. The Mozilla folks could mention this. Since Mozilla can be configured to run with any player\'s content. I have mine (currently using Netscape 6.2) configured to play all Windows Media formatted content in the MS Media Player. It is very easy to do. So why is Microsoft locking non-IE users out of their MSN Music site? Can\'t browse and can\'t listen.

#62 Has the DoJ been watching what Microsoft is doing

by pkb351 <pbergsagel@shaw.ca>

Monday November 5th, 2001 2:20 PM

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Microsoft is continuing more of the same illegal stuff and seem to be thumbing their nose at the DoJ. This makes me wonder if the DoJ even knows what Microsoft does since the agreement they reached with Microsoft in the anti-trust case lead me to believe the DoJ either is: 1. unaware of all the recent anticompetitve stuff, 2. doesn't feel it is relevant to the present case,3. is tired of the case and wants it to go away, regardless of how many companies are hurt by this action.

I hope someone would bring the issue of blocking the competiton from this site at the final hearing before the remedy is agreed upon by the judge in the Microsoft case. Surely the Judge would not settle the case if Microsoft is still acting as anticompetitive as always? Then again this is a Republican appointed Judge (I believe).

Maybe Netscape or AOL will make a submission before the Judge before the court signs the agreement--we can only hope.

#30 This man pays more than Microsoft!

by niner

Friday November 2nd, 2001 6:29 AM

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have a look at <http://www.tacube.com/pages/mcowen.html>

He's sent to jail and has to pay some hundred thousands of dollars just because he let RC5 ( <http://www.distributed.net> ) run on a schools computers.

Nice contrast to a Microsoft getting just losing nearly nothing for all they have done...

#34 Re: Stable Full Interfaces

by pallando <dreay@uk.mathworks.com>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 8:54 AM

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Well, I've read the proposed settlement: <http://www.microsoft.com/…nov01/11-02settlement.asp>

The relevant section seems to be: D. Starting [...] Microsoft shall disclose [...] the APIs and related Documentation that are used by Microsoft Middleware to interoperate with a Windows Operating System Product.

Where part of the definition of "Microsoft Middleware Product" is: the functionality provided by Internet Explorer, Microsoft s Java Virtual Machine, Windows Media Player, Windows Messenger, Outlook Express and their successors in a Windows Operating System Product

So the "Full" bit seems to be covered.

But I see no mention of Stability in there. So expect to see applications written to those APIs break with every release of windows.

I also see no mention of how the OS interoperates with the middleware. In other words, there is nothing to stop the OS expecting Internet Explorer, by name, rather than using some generic give-me-this-persons-default-webbrowser() method. How many of you have installed a patch from Microsoft and found that your default web browser has mysteriously been reset to IE?

#51 Re: Re: Stable Full Interfaces

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Saturday November 3rd, 2001 5:30 PM

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You make a good point, but the settlement states that Microsoft has to publish APIs no later seven months prior to the last beta (pre-release candidate) of a major product release, which is defined as any release with one or less numbers after the "point" in the product. Thus, IE 6.5 will be covered, IE 6.51 will not. I suppose Microsoft could well start using two digits constantly, but that would confuse users and be a bad marketing move.

I don't know, after reading the settlement it doesn't seem too bad to me. The committee that's appointed (TC) actually has a great deal of power, and in addition to a two-year extension, the settlement does also specify "or any other remedies the Court finds necessary".

Still, I don't see mention of the "clean version" of Windows I was hoping for. Looks like all it forces is Microsoft to allow people to disable access to features. That kind of sucks. And yes, I've had my default browser reset by Frontpage98, I think, or another program.

Note though that this settlement addresses the fact that Microsoft used to totally disallow dual-booting, and this forces them to stop that. Before, their license would not allow people to change the boot sequence at all. I think that's a good thing, at least.

#53 its a step

by niner

Saturday November 3rd, 2001 6:43 PM

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but it's a very small step which goes not far enough. Additionally this gives nothing back to companies like Netscape, Sun, etc. which were harmed by the monopolist, so it seems like all is okay if you break laws as long as you stop or just reduce this behaviour some years later.

#63 Read it again...

by mosborne

Tuesday November 6th, 2001 10:57 PM

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Re: Publishing API\\\\\\\'s

There are so many exceptions to this (e.g., authentication, or anything to do with anti-piracy, or the security/integrity of their client\\\\\\\'s network, etc.) that MS can effectively ignore it. Why? Becasue *they* get to make the definitions of what falls under what category. Also, MS is *not* required to allow you to remove anyof their middleware, only to *hide* it. It will still be there active availble for virues or whatnot to use. MS may also override any of your choosen substitutions for their \\\\\\\"removed\\\\\\\" middleware for a whole list of reasons. And again, those decisions are made by MS.

Re: Dual-booting

Note the wording in the agreement. You can only do this if you use a non-Microsoft bootloader. You can\\\\\\\'t use the NT bootloader to present a choice unless MS allows you to. In reality no real change here at all. Especially since Windows loves to take over the boot functions.

This whole decree is effectively nothing at all. It is so riddled with outs, and holes as to be utterly useless.

#36 Well, this is a bit lame

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 10:02 AM

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I haven't read the text of the deal yet but I read CNET's analysis <http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1003-200-7756967.html> of it. The way I see it, Microsoft would never sign up for a deal that actually restricted their business practices. They would either make sure the deal had enough loopholes in it so that it didn't actually work, only agree to a deal that they can implement in such a way that it has no effect whatsoever or, sign up for a deal which doesn't even seem to do anything in the first place. Looks like they've secured all of the above.

I seem to remember earlier in the trial that Microsoft were forced to make a version of Windows 95 sans IE3. Microsoft made this version in such a way that it didn't even boot up. What's to stop them doing the same thing with this 'lite' version of Windows? And even if the lite version does boot, what's to stop Mirosoft requiring you to install Internet Explorer/Windows Media Player/Windows Messsenger to use Office/Encarta/Solitaire?

The end to restrictive licensing practices sounds all well and good except it's only for five years. So say PC vendor X is a good little minion and carries on preinstalling its PCs with Microsoft software whereas PC vendor Y chooses to go with rival software. After five years Microsoft is allowed to begin practicing favourable pricing again. Do you really think that they're not going to take X and Y's policies over the last five years into account?

Where's the restrictions to stop them using their monopoly to promote MSN, Windows Media (the format could be as important as CDs in the future) and Passport? Why are the practices only designed to 'prevent' future abuses rather than to punish them for past ones? Why did the DOJ not exploit the appeals court ruling more?

The biggest joke is that if Microsoft blatantly ignore this consent degree (like they did the last one) then it just gets extended for two years. What's the point of extending a decree that they're already ignoring?

Somebody please tell me that I've completely misunderstood this and that the deal will actually restrict Microsoft. Please.

Alex

#38 Re: Well, this is a bit lame

by strauss

Friday November 2nd, 2001 10:50 AM

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> The biggest joke is that if Microsoft blatantly ignore this consent degree (like they did the last one) then it just gets extended for two years. <

And they certainly will. The whole reason the draconian breakup penalty was originally imposed is because Microsoft has blatantly flouted every conduct remedy imposed on them. That's not going to change. After a while you have to give up on conduct remedies and go for structural remedies instead. In Microsoft's case, there might as well not be any conduct remedy unless the company is actively placed under constant judicial review of every strategic and tactical decision, and that's just not feasible -- the courts can't run a company that large.

This is grim news for the rest of the software industry.

#39 Re: Re: Well, this is a bit lame

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 10:58 AM

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Now, strauss, this has gone far enough. I'm still agreeing with you. Stop it.

Alex

#40 Re: Re: Well, this is a bit lame

by TonyG <tony.gorman@blueyonder.co.Yuk>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 11:26 AM

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Just read this <http://xml.com/pub/a/2001/10/31/msn.html> on XML.com.

Interesting read. MS have shown their intent through the MSN.com debacle. This legal decision is a green light to them to abuse all around them. 3 years of legal threats has amounted to them getting a wagging finger.

MS are gonna totally fuck the web up by their doings and only a break up of the company or some other heavy blow will stop them. The software industry is already starting to feel the pain of MS's domination and this decision makes gloomy, gloomy reading.

I hope that the Euro courts stick the boot into them as hard as possible because.

#45 Why Johnny Can't Parse

by choess <choess@stwing.upenn.edu>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 5:57 PM

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One of the questions that arises out of Microsoft's ridiculous claims of "standards compliance" and so forth is "How can they get away with it?" An interesting question; after all, why should the W3C be expected to sit quietly while MS makes grossly misleading claims about supporting its "standards"? The problem here is the composition of the W3C. While it's done a fairly decent job of acting like a neutral standards body for the past few years, it is an industry consortium, and as such, operates in the interests of its members. It's all well and good to write standards, of course, but who wants to be held responsible for *implementing* them. After all, it could take a lot of programming time, money, and effort to completely implement them; it would be embarassing if companies were called to account for that, and it would hurt people's feelings. Better to use nice fuzzy terms like "strong support" and pick and choose the easy bits. Of course, since there's no reference implementation or comprehensive test for standards, the Teeming Millions will eat up any pap you give them about your support vs the competition's.

Of course, it doesn't help that the W3C has taken a quick-n-dirty approach toward the documents it produces; "Recommendations" have the advantage of being able to go from draft to recommendation in "Internet Time", but they lose some of the rigor associated with IETF standards. Furthermore, recs like CSS2 were churned out without regard for implementation, leaving a document riddled with ambiguities and errors. (There's quite a few bugs in Bugzilla with some variation of "ask wg for clarification" in the status line...) Fortunately, the W3C Process Document now requires a WG to demonstrate an implementation of each feature in a Candidate Recommendation before it can advance to Proposed Recommendation, but it will take a long time to undo the damage. The W3C has also, encouragingly, begun a Quality Assurance activity, which is making vague noises about certification, but it will take them a long time just to assemble the tools for the job, let alone actually starting to evaluate software.

As bleak as this may sound, I think there are signs of hope. It looks like RAND is being forced into retrograde motion, such that new recommendations may be required to be royalty-free, and I think the dedication of projects/companies like Opera and Mozilla may give the W3C the courage to stand up to MS and say, "We're going to do what's best, whether in writing recommendations or enforcing them, because people respect and rely on them, and going home to write your own standard isn't going to fly anymore." (Look at Samba, for example, which seems to have been quite successful at reverse-engineering a "commoditized" protocol.) The Web community has begun to see what a powerful thing universally-accepted standards are with XML; MS won't find it so easy to break things now, I think.

#60 Re: Why Johnny Can't Parse

by gwalla <gwalla@despammed.com>

Sunday November 4th, 2001 6:52 PM

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"Of course, it doesn't help that the W3C has taken a quick-n-dirty approach toward the documents it produces; "Recommendations" have the advantage of being able to go from draft to recommendation in "Internet Time", but they lose some of the rigor associated with IETF standards."

That was actually a deliberate tradeoff. The W3C was formed because the IETF's standards process was so slow that any HTML spec that resulted would already be horribly outdated, which basically meant that browser programmers *had* to add proprietary extentions in order to make it usable.

#41 Re: Well, this is a bit lame

by thomanski

Friday November 2nd, 2001 11:53 AM

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Well said. Reminds me of something I read on NTK last year:

"What Penfield Jackson spotted about MS was that they were "untrustworthy" types, happy to ignore the spirit of any suggestion if they can comply with the wording. And that means that given a legal division, they'll hack a technical workaround. [...] if they're given enough momentum, they'll follow a trajectory of exclusionary methods that'll keep them both lock-step in technological lock-in. Microsoft isn't fighting the legal damage: it's planning to route right around it."

see: <http://www.ntk.net/index.cgi?back=2000/now0609.txt>

Funny we all know what's going to happen, but can't change it, don't you think?

----

PS: NTK, btw, is an awesome (weekly) UK newsletter you all should subscribe to. And, no, I am not affiliated with them!

#46 AOL's dead dog

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 11:50 PM

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I am not pro-Microsoft. I hate Microsoft. But AOL has its issues, too, and I think that the company's treatment of Netscape hasn't been great. The fact is, AOL COULD have tried to retake the browser market. AOL is and was then by far capable of IMMEDIATELY hacking up a version of Netscape that could have run within AOL. They did not. Now that the deal with Microsoft is over, AOL could have hacked in Netscape 4.x - which is supported better than Mozilla currently in the market - or used a "Quirk mode" version of Mozilla. They have not.

My personal opinion is that Microsoft was downright evil in its treatment of Netscape, but that AOL has been equally rotten in playing Netscape as the dead dog in the browser market in a deliberate effort to have the government disembowel a major competitor. You don't pay $13 million for the Netscape brand name and then do almost nothing with it unless you have a reason, and the reason was that if AOL used Netscape, the browser war would be largely unwon, giving Netscape a 40 share or higher.

This would then have made the outcome of the trial irrelevant, since IE would not have retained a monopoly status in the browser market (monopolies are only considered 80 share or higher of any given market). I bet the government dropped the tying issue because they knew they couldn't disprove that AOL had and did not use their ability to campaign on the behalf of Netscape's browser share.

Therefore, as the whole basis of the case has now been put on rocky ground by AOL itself, who chose not to compete at all, I think it's best to get SOMETHING out of it now and get on with other lawsuits about .Net, Passport, and whatnot. No matter what the restrictions are, the appeals court upheld the monopoly maintenance case and other trials will benefit from that precedent. I don't know yet how happy I am with the proposed settlement; I do think the government might be wasting some of the firepower it has, but I think they're doing it in favor of getting immediate restrictions placed rather than allowing Microsoft to drag the court proceeding out eternally.

The fact is: the Netscape name has so far been AOL's sacrifice to kill Microsoft. By extension, it is my view that AOL will only start pushing Netscape AFTER this trial is done, so I want it over one way or another.

#47 Re: AOL's dead dog

by strauss

Saturday November 3rd, 2001 9:34 AM

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Failure to come out with a browser sooner certainly has been a major factor in handing the browser market to Microsoft, although Microsoft bundling strategies might have been almost as effective with an earlier Netscape release as part of AOL.

What I'm not understanding in your message is the finger-pointing at AOL as opposed to Netscape. Do you think AOL didn't want to come out with a browser sooner than 2002? AOL were told by Netscape that the complete rewrite of the browser from scratch would allow them to ship a serious competitor in 1999. This was a silly claim then and even more so now in hindsight, but AOL can hardly be painted as the aggressor for simply believing something told to it by Netscape, or for pumping tens (probably hundreds) of millions of dollars into Netscape to let it do what Netscape wanted to do. Responsibility for the delay must be pointed at the responsible parties in Netscape technical management -- although I've come to think that phrase may be an oxymoron.

#48 Nope, I think it's AOL

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Saturday November 3rd, 2001 4:34 PM

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AOL has called the shots, as far as I'm concerned, since acquiring Netscape. They tried to paint it like a merger: it was an acquisition. If Mozilla was supposed to be "done" in 1999 according to Netscape, that's one thing. But what speaks volumes is the fact that AOL has really NOT pushed Netscape at all, or even tried to, in any real way, anywhere. A company who built fame on shoving its product down everyone's throats is, for some strange reason, seemingly entirely incapable of distributing Netscape anywhere.

Did the Microsoft deal say that AOL couldn't make a worldwide ISP using Netscape? I doubt it. Why haven't they tried doing so? They have ISPs for new users (AOL), geeks (Compuserve), and an open demographic for an ISP for Netscape-class users (Internet savvy business types) that they haven't leveraged at all. Did the deal with Microsoft say that AOL couldn't make Netscape CDs free like AOL CDs? Did it say that Netscape itself couldn't create its own partnerships to help the browser share out?

My point is just that all Netscape has really done in the last few years is put out an early browser that many people HATED: Netscape 6. Even Netscape themselves has said they "went under the radar" deliberately. Why? Because if AOL "undid" the damage Microsoft had done to Netscape, the trial would be irrelevant. All Netscape tech management aside, I'd bet that AOL never had any intention of really pushing Netscape until this trial was over. I would go as far as to say that AOL may well have purchased Netscape at least in part to "hide it" for the duration of the trial. I think they hate Microsoft that much. I bet Netscape hated Microsoft badly enough to agree to "going under the radar".

Even now AOL PR is still trying very hard to de-emphasize the Compuserve Gecko beta. Their last actions on that subject: AOL 7.0 STILL has IE in it, and when asked about when the Compuserve 7.0 version would be out, AOL said something vague like "we have no idea when CS 7.0 will be out, or what browser it will use. We're still testing." or something like that.

Note that Microsoft has brought up this very same point, and I think it's the one thing they're right about. AOL is walking on eggshells not to ruin the outcome of the antitrust trial, and the result is a deliberately IE-skewed market that makes Microsoft look really, really bad.

Now, I don't hate AOL. They have kept Mozilla alive, open source, and properly funded, and have sheltered Netscape (perhaps too much) after the company was beta to death by Microsoft. With the CS beta and the recent loud boom that was the end of the AOL/Microsoft partnership (I nearly wept with joy), I think that AOL is finally on their way to really pushing Netscape, or at least Mozilla. However, I still think AOL is being as quiet about it as humanly possible to avoid making any waves in the antitrust movement against Microsoft. It's just short of corporate sabotage, I think. Like PredatorA waiting to dine on PredatorB after BigAssRockA breaks PredatorA's back.

James

#49 Err..

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Saturday November 3rd, 2001 4:37 PM

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"after the company was beta to death"

that should be "beat" to death. "Beta to death" would probably be ICQ, which has yet to see a gold release.

#50 Re: Nope, I think it's AOL

by strauss

Saturday November 3rd, 2001 4:56 PM

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> But what speaks volumes is the fact that AOL has really NOT pushed Netscape at all, or even tried to, in any real way, anywhere. <

What do you call spending tens or hundreds of millions of dollars developing it?

> A company who built fame on shoving its product down everyone's throats is, for some strange reason, seemingly entirely incapable of distributing Netscape anywhere. <

They packaged it, promoted it, and made it available for free download. The only thing is, people don't want it at its current stage of development. The premature 6.0 and 6.1 releases have made things harder for later, better versions. They've done just what you said they didn't do, and it's hurt the project quite a bit. Classic markjeting-think: "I don't want it good, I want it Thursday!"

> Did the Microsoft deal say that AOL couldn't make a worldwide ISP using Netscape? I doubt it. Why haven't they tried doing so? <

Because they don't have a browser as good as Internet Explorer yet, and they couldn't handle the technical support costs or customer migration that would have followed a Mozilla-based AOL release at the current stage. Now that Mozilla may be approaching that point, they're giving it a test run on CI$ to see if it flies. Doing that before about 0.9.4 would have been even more foolish than releasing NS6.[01] was.

> Why? Because if AOL "undid" the damage Microsoft had done to Netscape, the trial would be irrelevant. <

That's a pretty silly conspiracy theory. How would this bizarre, expensive, years-long subterfuge butter AOL's bread? Where's the ka-ching?

> when asked about when the Compuserve 7.0 version would be out, AOL said something vague like "we have no idea when CS 7.0 will be out, or what browser it will use. We're still testing." or something like that. <

An inscrutable, cryptic, even oracular statement. It couldn't possibly mean they're still testing, after all....

#52 bah

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Saturday November 3rd, 2001 6:12 PM

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>>What do you call spending tens or hundreds of millions of >>dollars developing it?

I never claimed AOL killed the project, but they certainly didn't expand it. Microsoft drove Netscape into the ground as a company and AOL pretty much left it there. No, they didn't kill Mozilla altogether, they had future uses for it, but they certainly didn't expand Netscape at all, like they have the money to do. AOL maintained the status quo, and they didn't expand or capitalize on the Netscape brand like Netscape Communications would have if they had AOL's cash flow as a sole company. Instead, they downsized Netscape and went "under the radar".

> A company who built fame on shoving its product down everyone's throats is, for some strange reason, seemingly entirely incapable of distributing Netscape anywhere. <

>>They packaged it, promoted it, and made it available for free download. The only thing is, people don't want it at its current stage of development. The premature 6.0 and 6.1 releases have made things harder for later, better versions. They've done just what you said they didn't do, and it's hurt the project quite a bit. Classic markjeting-think: "I don't want it good, I want it Thursday!"

No, I don't think they "did what I said they didn't do". Netscape 6 had pathetic marketing and promotion. I'd honestly wonder, although I can't prove, if AOL felt forced into releasing SOMETHING so that they weren't percieved to be doing what I think they've done: playing Netscape like a dead dog. Now they can say "Well we tried to compete with Netscape 6, didn't work, see what Microsoft has done to us?"

> Did the Microsoft deal say that AOL couldn't make a worldwide ISP using Netscape? I doubt it. Why haven't they tried doing so? <

>>Because they don't have a browser as good as Internet Explorer yet, and they couldn't handle the technical support costs or customer migration that would have followed a Mozilla-based AOL release at the current stage. Now that Mozilla may be approaching that point, they're giving it a test run on CI$ to see if it flies. Doing that before about 0.9.4 would have been even more foolish than releasing NS6.[01] was.

> Why? Because if AOL "undid" the damage Microsoft had done to Netscape, the trial would be irrelevant. <

>>That's a pretty silly conspiracy theory. How would this bizarre, expensive, years-long subterfuge butter AOL's bread? Where's the ka-ching?

That would be ripping up Microsoft, who is currently closing in on AOL's bread and butter with MSN. Obviously AOL wants the government to do as much as possible to hinder MSN and MSN Messenger from eating AOL's own properties alive.

> when asked about when the Compuserve 7.0 version would be out, AOL said something vague like "we have no idea when CS 7.0 will be out, or what browser it will use. We're still testing." or something like that. <

>>An inscrutable, cryptic, even oracular statement. It couldn't possibly mean they're still testing, after all....

Yes, it is vague, Mr. Sarcasm. They're testing Gecko in CS but they can't even admit that CS 7.0 will use it? You really think they're going to scrap the project and go back to IE? I doubt it. I use it, and it's perfectly functional (aside from the support issues from the Web community at large). But the above statement leaves room for that possibility, confusing the issue. What they could have said was "Yes, CS 7.0 will use Gecko, so will future versions of AOL, but we're not done testing."

#54 Re: bah

by strauss

Saturday November 3rd, 2001 8:15 PM

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The conspiracy theory remains silly and overwrought. I doubt you have a foot in the business world, am I right?

What brought Netscape low was Netscape. I know a number of people who have worked there. It's pretty much as described in the press -- constant crisis mode, no real planning, no process to speak of, no accountability, major culture of programming heroism. In short, a recipe for disaster. That's why their products couldn't compete -- CMM level 0 is no basis for developing large software projects. (Funny, all the founders' other projects seem to have gone the same way.)

You still seem unable to grasp the idea that Mozilla in CI$ is a _trial_run_. They don't know yet whether it's ready or if it will cause customer migration and excessive support costs. That's why they're _testing_ it. If they won't commit to it yet, it's because they _don't_know_. How are they supposed to know without a trial run? Sheesh.

EOC -- end of conversation

#55 Nope

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Saturday November 3rd, 2001 8:56 PM

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>>The conspiracy theory remains silly and overwrought. I doubt you have a foot in the business world, am I right?

No, you're wrong. I have a pretty good "foot" in publishing, particularly technical publishing.

>>What brought Netscape low was Netscape.

I never questioned that, or even mentioned what brought Netscape down. The fact you still have yet to address is that AOL KEPT Netscape low.

>>I know a number of people who have worked there.

I know a number of people who work there now. SO WHAT?

>>It's pretty much as described in the press -- constant crisis mode, no real planning, no process to speak of, no accountability, major culture of programming heroism. In short, a recipe for disaster. That's why their products couldn't compete -- CMM level 0 is no basis for developing large software projects. (Funny, all the founders' other projects seem to have gone the same way.)

All irrelevant. Again, I'm talking about post-AOL acquisition, not pre-acquisition. And if Netscape was responsible for its own demise as you claim here, why are you sniveling elsewhere that the punishment - for a crime you evidently think didn't exist, if Netscape "brought itself down" - isn't significant enough?

>>You still seem unable to grasp the idea that Mozilla in CI$ is a _trial_run_.

Look, you've so entirely missed the point. My point has nothing to do with the beta itself, but more the fact that they're being so quiet about the whole business. You'd think AOL would want more people to know that they were going to dump IE and use their OWN GD BROWSER. They have hardly breathed a word and the only things they HAVE said were due to leaked internal memos. The "komodo" documents. Indeed, I seem to remember you arguing six months ago on THIS VERY TOPIC that I was full of it, that Compuserve WASN'T using Gecko, that it was unsubstantiated rumor on my part. I know it's a "trial run", I'm using it. I also happen to think there's ZERO chance of AOL continuing to use IE, Barry Schuler even said they would use it when they got the bugs worked out. But it's all this secretive shuffling that I'm pointing to; they're not discussing it at all unless they have to, because (AGAIN!) they don't want to disrupt the trial. My opinion.

And oh, EOC yourself. You're the one that plays Devil's advocate to pretty much EVERY post here. This is my opinion. If you want to argue it, I'll argue back.

#56 Kerberos???

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Saturday November 3rd, 2001 11:48 PM

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Since all Microsoft protocols must be opened, doesn't that include the Windows-only Kerberos? I hope so. It's kind of depressing to have an open-source protocol so brutalized to work only on one system.

#64 Re: Kerberos???

by mosborne

Tuesday November 6th, 2001 11:00 PM

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No, authentication protocols are specifically excluded.

#57 Why don't the businesses complain?

by kongo09

Sunday November 4th, 2001 7:45 AM

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What I don't understand in all this is, why do businesses not complain about Windows being bundled with all that stuff?

Let's face it: no component coming with Windows is coming for free. There is no free lunch. They all cost a lot of money to develop and they are paid one way or another with revenues made elsewhere. Why would a business that needs thousands of Windows licenses for its machines want to pay this extra money for a media player it doesn't need, for a web browser it probably doesn't need, for a news reader it doesn't need, etc...

If you strip down Windows to the real core OS and take away all the 'freebies' you can probably end up with a third of the cost. These are substantial savings for businesses - but still they seem to fall for the odd supermarket 'buy one get one free' scam. Maybe the General Electrics, Bayers, or Fords of this world should demand the OS they really need for a fair price. And maybe the government should allow people to pay only for what they need.

#58 Re: Why don't the businesses complain?

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Sunday November 4th, 2001 5:22 PM

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You're right. I thought that there was a provision for forcing them to ship a clean version of Windows, but I don't see that provision in the settlement. The original breakup order made them ship a version of Windows without all that crap in it, and forced them to reduce the price by the percentage of code they removed. I wish that was a stipulation here.

JR

#65 Re: Stable Full Interfaces

by pallando <dreay@uk.mathworks.com>

Friday November 9th, 2001 9:58 AM

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> I also see no mention of how the OS interoperates with the middleware.

The Register ( <http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/22684.html> ) goes into that subject in more detail:

START QUOTE ^...the Windows Operating System Product may invoke a Microsoft Middleware Product [without your permission, even after you ve hidden it, presumably] in any instance in which:

^1. that Microsoft Middleware Product would be invoked solely for use in interoperating with a server maintained by Microsoft (outside the context of general Web browsing), or ^2. that designated Non-Microsoft Middleware Product fails to implement a reasonable technical requirement (e.g. a requirement to be able to host a particular ActiveX control) that is necessary for valid technical reasons to supply the end user with functionality consistent with a Windows Operating System Product, provided that the technical reasons are described in a reasonably prompt manner to any ISV that requests them.^

Point 1 gives pretty good cover for .NET services (which can easily be ^outside the context of general Web browsing^), while 2 provides endless scope for Microsoft to tell its rivals how fundamentally broken their products are. END QUOTE