New Poll Request

Saturday February 27th, 1999

A new PCWeek article states that many antitrust specialists are now believing that the government will not only win its case against Microsoft, but withstand an appeal as well. What will the remedy be?

Our next poll will be "If you needed to propose a remedy at the end of the Microsoft trial, it would be to ______." This time, however, we're doing the poll a little differently.

We'd like you to submit to us possible answers to the remedy question. We'll take our favorite responses, and use ten of them in the poll. If they require extra explanation, we'll do a little news piece to accompany the poll that explains the choices in detail.

So, for now, what we need from you is this: Send email to with your possible remedy for Microsoft's antitrust violations. It should contain a title, _as short as possible_, that describes the remedy (so it fits in the poll space). It should be followed by a short description of the remedy for clarity.

Your remedy can be as useful or as silly as you like. No rules. If you propose castrating Bill Gates in a public display, it might be illegal, but it may be intriguing enough to make it into the poll.

#1 Force MS to Open Windows Code

by James H. Russell

Saturday February 27th, 1999 2:23 PM

Jackson should say, basically, you had a monopoly, you abused it, and therefore now you lose it. Much as Linux is doing well now, it may not matter so much, but Microsoft will thereafter be just another software company--as it should be. Who knows, they might actually start concentrating on putting out quality products!

#2 Force MS to Open Windows Code

by James H. Russell

Saturday February 27th, 1999 2:25 PM

Jackson should say, basically, "You (MS)had a monopoly, you abused it, and now therefore now you will lose it." As well as Linux is doing now it may not matter so much, but Microsoft will thereafter be just another software company--as it should be. Who knows, they might actually start concentrating on putting out quality products!

#3 Re:New Poll Request

by Chris Soghoian

Saturday February 27th, 1999 6:52 PM

What should happen?

All currnt and future MS Software is put under the GPL.

#4 Re:New Poll Request

by _Dan

Saturday February 27th, 1999 9:53 PM

Yeah right!!! There is no way the DOJ is going to force MS to release the source code to anything!!! All there going to do is give them a slap on the wrist, and restrict some of there future negotiations with other computer companies (no more forcing IE on every one).

#5 To the Poll

by Chris Weber

Sunday February 28th, 1999 8:22 AM

I think that they should be forced to release the source code to the product that has been under the mostly under scrutiny here. Win 98 and while their at it maybe 95 too.

#6 Re:New Poll Request

by M2

Sunday February 28th, 1999 9:29 AM

They should be disallowed to make OEM business deals such as "The regular license of Windows is $100 a copy, but you can have it for $5 a copy if you don't include any other operating systems on your shipped PC."

#7 Re:New Poll Request

by Wrynn

Sunday February 28th, 1999 11:09 AM

How about some kind of alternating banner ads showing Linux, Sun, Netscape and anybody else who has been hurt by Microsofts Monopoly? Maybe when you install Win2000?

#8 Re:New Poll Request

by Tim Kelley

Sunday February 28th, 1999 11:22 AM

- they should be forced to open up the Win32 API completely (I mean the source)

- they should be prevented from making special deals with OEMs that discourage competition (i.e., discounts for good behaviour)

#9 Re:New Poll Request

by Vincent

Sunday February 28th, 1999 11:26 AM

Force them to license WinNT and Win9X under the GPL. This way, 1- everybody will have the same access to the APIs 2- if they want to add something to the OS, they'll have to release it under the GPL...

#10 Open their APIs and file formats

by Julian Morrison

Sunday February 28th, 1999 1:30 PM

they should be forced to release *all* their APIs for Windows and Office, and release complete specs for all their file formats, and be forced to keep these error free and up to date, and add in any new APIs or file formats as they are created.

#11 Re:New Poll Request

by Alan Wild

Sunday February 28th, 1999 4:49 PM

Although forcing MS to open their code base is ideal, like most ideals, it's not realistic.

I say they should be required to publish _ALL_ (present and future) API's and protocols publiclly. Not only in books but on their web sites as well.

That would go a long way to helping SAMBA, WINE and other OSS projects.

NOTE: This idea is not original. One of the webzines ran an article and this is what the author proposed. Unfortunately, I can't remember the URL. If anyone has it, please post it.

#12 Re:New Poll Request

by Danno Ferrin

Monday March 1st, 1999 1:11 AM

* Do some sort of a required licencing to the WINE project, until it reaces a resonable platform parity

* Prevent all future preferential sales contracts except for those with respect to large purchases. I.e. windows costs 199 in quantities of 1-5, 150 in quantities of 6-20..... $50 in quantities of 10,000+. None of the $5 if the machiene is all microsoft stuff, or "you ship linux, we won't talk with you" sales rap.

#13 Re:New Poll Request

by Boingo

Monday March 1st, 1999 7:22 AM

How about makin Bill do the M$ website. That would surely turn IE into a fully standardized browser.

#14 Re:New Poll Request

by rgelb

Monday March 1st, 1999 9:46 AM

I think, some of you guys are dreaming. What is gonna happen is that they will be forbidden to make exclusionary business deals, be fined a good deal and maybe restricted on vaporware.

#15 Revoke MS Corporate Charter

by A good Citizen

Monday March 1st, 1999 2:26 PM

It seems simple enough to me. MS was given life as a corporation to pursue economic growth and aid the public good by its products and competition. It has violated that with bad products and anti-competitive behavior. It should be put to corporate death. Revoke its corporate charter and have a fire sale of its assets, returning all proceeds to shareholders. Our government routinely kills..em executes people who kill other people to set an example. If we killed MS other companies would think twice about making "extinguish all competition, by all means necessary" as their corporate mantra.

#16 Break it into three companies

by Rick Rohan

Monday March 1st, 1999 4:39 PM

I think the best way to deal with Microsoft is to break it into three separate companies. One to do Operating Systems and Compilers. One to do Application software such as Office, Access, Internet Explorer, etc. And one to do Web Sites such as Expedia, Sidewalk, etc.

From such a split you might see benefits such as Windows as well as Microsofts websites never having a problem with Netscape derived browsers and more of Microsoft's apps ported to other systems like Office for Linux or Access for Macintosh.

#17 Re:New Poll Request

by jwr

Monday March 1st, 1999 7:38 PM

How about a nice big fine that is then used to setup a fund that invests in companies/people doing open source software?

#18 Re:New Poll Request

by arielb

Monday March 1st, 1999 8:18 PM

it's those bundling agreements. Knock them so OEM's have a choice to bundle linux or BeOS on their systems

#19 Re:New Poll Request

by Waldo

Monday March 1st, 1999 9:51 PM

It seems to me that windows open-sourcing their code would be a terrible blow to linux-- why would anyone want to switch to a unix-like OS when they can run an open, popular & bugfixed version of Micro$oft's OS?


#20 Re:New Poll Request

by rgelb

Monday March 1st, 1999 9:55 PM

I am sure, all those lawyers are thinking of Open Source Software, when deciding on punishment for Microsoft.

#21 Re:New Poll Request

by _Dan

Monday March 1st, 1999 10:00 PM

>It seems simple enough to me. MS >was given life as a corporation to >pursue economic growth and aid the >public good by its products and >competition. It has violated that >with bad products and >anti-competitive behavior. It >should be put to corporate death. >Revoke its corporate charter and >have a fire sale of its assets, >returning all proceeds to >shareholders.

Yeah Right!!! The death of MS would mean the loss of all those BIG corporate taxes they pay each year. Our government isn't stupid enough to kill one of the highest grossing companies in the US, they have a debt to pay off!!! Plus even if they did what would prevent MS from packing up and moving across the border to Canada taking all that welth with them???

#22 Fines and auctions...

by Ami Ganguli

Tuesday March 2nd, 1999 12:56 AM

Make an estimate of where MS would be today without their illegal actions and fine them the difference. Force them to auction off assets until the fine is paid.

You could probably pay down a fair portion of the US debt this way.

#23 Re:New Poll Request

by Denubis Banere

Tuesday March 2nd, 1999 4:32 PM

Our debt is actually not a bad thing... it represents all the bonds and such that our government has taken out over the years. Its physically impossible to pay off ALL the debt.. I think.. (someone with an Econ major respond please :) ) Oh, and gates should be hamstrung and set loose in alaska. :) his company should be split up into OS, APP and MSN (I.e. hotmail)

#24 Re:New Poll Request

by Narbey Derbekyan

Wednesday March 3rd, 1999 8:34 AM

1) the afformentioned publication of all win32 APIs, including MS Office file formats.

2) MS to set aside hard cash to fund OSS/free software projects. Oh 100Mill/year sound good to people?

#25 Re:New Poll Request

by Tekhir

Wednesday March 3rd, 1999 10:11 AM

To: _Dan

Of course our government can afford to kill Microsoft. We have and income surplus of billions of dollars. Right now the gov is trying to figure out how to spend it, obviously they don't care about our 5 trillion dollar debt.

releasing the Win32 API is a good start, a lot of it is floating around out there, but not all of it.

spliting the company up is the best idea heres why. Bell got split up but they still control a major of the market. If Microsoft got split up each splinter compnay would still work closely together since many of their projects are becoming to messed up not to.

#26 Re:New Poll Request

by Econ major

Wednesday March 3rd, 1999 10:52 AM

To Tekhir: This is just an aside. It's a great thing that our government finally has a surplus again. The only problem with it is that our social security system is in great jeopardy, and if you spend it elsewhere, where is the money going to come from to pay for SS?

If they were to dissolve MS, they would basically create a huge void in the consumer computing market, so that's an impossibility. It's more than just the tax money you're dealing with. There are always further repercussions that you need to consider.

And to Denubis: Debt is usually a bad thing, but in certain situations, people can get away with not paying it off. The government does not have to pay it off completely, nor would it want to. The health of our economy does not depend exclusively on our national debt, as we've seen for the past 9 years of economic expansion. Bottom line is that so long as the country's growing at a healthy pace, debt is not so bad and can actually be paid off (theoretically, of course).

Anyway, my little take on this poll: 1. Make MS unbundle IE from its OS's and fine them. 2. Open all APIs to third party programmers, as this will even out the competitive floor.

There are always legal ways to get around laws and restrictions in the long run, so as far as I can tell, there isn't too much else that you can really do to MS.

#27 To Waldo: Re: Linux vs. Open Windows

by Thomas Winzig

Wednesday March 3rd, 1999 10:55 AM

This wouldn't hurt Linux too much. We're talking, what, 20-30 MILLION lines of code in Windows. Not to mention how much hacked spaghetti code it's likely to have.

What I'd like to see is BeOS be opened up. :)

#28 Re:New Poll Request

by J. Maynard Gelinas

Wednesday March 3rd, 1999 11:07 AM

The DOJ should:

- BAN exclusionary deals with OEMs. Microsoft should be forced to publish their price list for all volume discounts. The court should demand MS sell Windows on a level playing field with all OEMs, no matter what other Operating Systems they sell with Intel based computers.

- Open the Win32 API and all MS protocols with quality documentation (forcing MS to publish source would basically nationalize MS, no way are they going to do that).

- Fine Microsoft. Five to Ten Billion dollars might wake up Bill and convince MS management that they must change their behavior to survive.

- File criminal charges against a few of those Microsoft officials who _clearly_ perjured themselves in court.

These are _reasonable_ proposals which won't use government power to steal (nationalize) Microsoft's intellectual property, and which have a long history of being upheld by the courts in cases of Monopoly abuse. Demanding that MS set consistent prices is not the same as the DOJ _setting_ prices. Forcing MS to document their API publically is _not_ the same as taking their intellectual property (source) and giving it away under an Open Source license... that is government theft of private property. Fining MS for pervasive illegal behavior is perfectly reasonable; happens to corrupt businesses every day. And finally, filing criminal charges of perjury against those who lied in court is not only reasonable, but should be considered _mandatory_.

Regardless of current congressional misconceptions, perjury is still a *CRIME*.

#29 Suggestions of J. Maynard Gelinas

by pohl

Wednesday March 3rd, 1999 12:09 PM

Those are the most reasonable suggestions that I've heard so far. Although there's a mischievous part of me that would love to see MS have to open their source code, the rest of me knows that this would be an extremely bad idea. If they were forced to open their source, Windows would become a permanent fixture in computing. I would rather that it fade into obscurity: a slow, horrible death.

#30 Re:New Poll Request

by Cooler

Wednesday March 3rd, 1999 1:02 PM

I don't want Microsoft to open-source there software. That is, it's ok with me if they will, but i surely wouldn't want to look at any code MS droids are writing. For a start -- their comments, variable-naming and capitalization styles are disgusting. Not a word about the bugs and the overall bad programming style.

What should be done to Microsoft? Making them invest in competitive companies is not the best idea -- take a look at Borland. It might be good to break it up to baby bills, but the court should ensure that they keep a reasonable level of support to their currently released software -- it would be _really_ terrible if NT, Office, and MSDev users will lose all backing. Another important thing is to forbid them from issuing closed proprietary patents (COM is EVIL. WINS is EVIL).

#31 Force more bundling or software

by Konmaskisin

Wednesday March 3rd, 1999 11:15 PM

First fine them for all their bad behaviour to date. Then ....

Rather than forcing MS to unbundle IE let them offer it along with source code for free (huge hunks of it are just Mosaic with MFC anyway), make them cease development of COM and WINS (or offer them for free with open source) and make them *bundle* and contribute $$ and resources to free cross platform software like apache, perl, perl/Tk, cygwin/egcs, Mozilla, and heh why not a free version of Win32/XFree86. Since IE Mozilla, apache and perl/TK (a replacement for VBasic? ;-) are free the price of the OS should then be reduced.

If they had to do this then they might *grow up* and act like a mature industry player. I mean they are *still* using anti-competitive tactics and trying to crush the competition in home PC sales even though they have 90% of the market. And they continue to *lie* blatantly about NT's capabilities as a server and to refuse to acknowledge the value they have gained by using open public protocols (i.e. university research) and free software (like IE the other grandchild of Mosaic).

Umm and after all it was free software that gave them their recent over the top boost too. If the internet hadn't come along does anywone think that buying a home PC would be as interesting as it is today? Microsoft should give back too.

If they give some complete bullshit complaint about being "unable to support this software" triple the fine and confiscate Bill's house and send their manager's on reeducation courses. Umm how do they think perl gets "supported" now?

Make them POSIXize themselves (just because).

Make them reduce the price of their OS to 39$ (as above)

Make *them* do the work of developing and implementing a *standard* (have they ever done this before) let's say a document format based on SGML/XML (it is possible witness W3C's work). Then after feedback from industry have them puiblish it and force them to respect it. Presto no more bullshit "competitive edge" based solely on proprietary document format.

Make them develop, support a current standard or release a non-proprietary sound & multi-media file format.

Forbid false advertising FUD and vapourware (it's illegal in other industries why not IT?)

Fine them 10 million dollars everytime they lie about NT5.0 in order to get people to buy NT4.0.

#32 Re:

by Pooh Bear

Thursday March 4th, 1999 12:00 PM

Bill Gates need to sit down and compile Windows 98.

If he can not, he must use Windows 98 for life.

He must not use Windows 95 or Windows NT. No honey.

#33 I propose...

by Paul Crowley

Thursday March 4th, 1999 12:01 PM

...castrating Bill Gates in a public display.

Why muck about?

#34 Re:New Poll Request

by CPT

Thursday March 4th, 1999 7:38 PM

Well, if you want to get really medieval on Bill ...

make him use (and support) OS/2

More realisticly, I've heard lots of suggestions about splitting up MS into several companies, but the question is whether to split it up by the markets (one OS company, one applications company, and one developement company) or into three "baby bills" (separate companies that each compete in the same markets as the others.) I think I'm in favor of the the former (split by markets) since there are already companies in that market.

But how do you keep the babies from acting as one company (ie. the os company making special deals with the app. company)?

At any rate, flat and open pricing - charging the same price for every license sold, regardless of volume or any other consideration - should be the order of the day.

#35 Re:New Poll Request

by Anthony Clark

Friday March 5th, 1999 8:24 AM

1. Force MS to make Win32 POSIX compliant. 2. Force MS to make Win2K to run off the Linux Kernel, therefore all it's OS software should be GPL. 3. Set up a 6 monthly review board of Industry and Academic "interested parties" who would report on MS's business practises. 4. Force MS to GPL all it's "standard" protocols/libraries etc.

#36 In reponse to J. Maynard Gelinas

by Zoloft

Saturday March 6th, 1999 9:48 PM

I agree with everything posted by J. Maynard Gelinas, except one thing. They *should* be forced to release Windows *and* IE source (the very items under DOJ investigation) to public domain, or some kind of open-source license, with *no* restrictions.

My responses to a couple points here-

"Windows would be 'nationalized'" I'm not really sure what you mean by that, but if you mean the same as it it would become a 'permanent fixture', I disagree. Those who are inclined to do something with it can be my guest. It might be debatable whether it's even reparable at all. Those of us who continue on, writing code for _real_ operating systems and software, aren't going to care much. In fact, I think it's more likely that Windows would be just plain torn apart. Perhaps certain chunks of it, APIs and such, that are useful would be ported to other OS's, just so we can use the thousands of packages, games and everything else we're still waiting for. Windows, the *product*, would have no other advantage except its own merits. That alone will kill it for certain.

"Forcing MS to document their API publically is _not_ the same as taking their intellectual property (source) and giving it away under an Open Source license ... that is government theft of private property." I would argue that their APIs could be considered their intellectual property just the same. They have used it and abused it to their advantage many times, just as they abused the privilege of owning Windows source code by tying in IE. A monetary fine is also a form of taking property. But I think in all these cases, they are appropriate punishment for _breaking the law_ and skewing the economics of the computer industry like a black hole. Thank you Zoloft

#37 Tp: Zoloft

by J. Maynard Gelinas

Sunday March 7th, 1999 11:47 AM

Zoloft Wrote: "Windows would be 'nationalized'" I'm not really sure what you mean by that, but if you mean the same as it it would become a 'permanent fixture', I disagree.

No I mean nationalize as in the government taking the property of a private corporation or individual without compensation. Regardless of Microsoft's illegal behavior, I seriously doubt the government could justify taking Microsoft's intelectual property and giving it away for free. However, I'm not a lawyer, this is just MHO about the law as a layman. But I don't think I would support such a move even though I strongly support free software.

Zoloft Wrote: I would argue that their APIs could be considered their intellectual property just the same.

No. An Applications Programming Interface is _not_ source code, it's a specification. That's like saying all mystery, romance, or science fiction genre are the property of Avon or Dell (book publishers). No, the source content can be copyrighted, but not the API. Now, they may wish to keep the API private, but I think that since Win32 is on the majority of desktop computers today the DOJ has a good argument that the specification should be open and managed by a separate body such as IEEE (or some other industry consortium like X/Open or whatever). Were that to happen the Win32 API would be taken from the hands of Microsoft (though I'm sure MS would still be a player) and made available to anyone who joined the organization. And this doesn't have to be free. Open _doesn't_ imply free! Just that the specification is open and available to anyone willing to fork over a fee to the organizing committe.