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[P]
A Look at the "Final Decree"

By loteck in Op-Ed
Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 09:55:33 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

The judgment in the Microsoft vs. USDOJ has come down, and it's sure to be plastered across the front page of every tech news source across the world. Talking heads and typing fingers with little or no understanding of this technology will be orally menstruating their half-cocked and half-cooked ideas everywhere you turn.

Ignoring all that, I turn to K5 to see what the people "in the trenches" have to say about today's decision, and hopefully generate some educated, informed, and original opinions.


Once again, here's the official link to the Final Decree. Almost anybody that has anything to do with anything that relates even somewhat closely to money is going to be looking it up. With that in mind, I'll be pasting pieces and parts here in the story to keep the reader up to date, and anyone who thinks I miss something significant should follow up with a comment.

And Begin.

A Terrible Summary

Summaries are always regarded as terrible in someone's view because what is important to me may not be important to you and vice versa. However, I'll do my best to cover the big bases here in case you don't want to read the whole article.

The first part of the Decree places restrictions on Microsoft's past behavior of retaliating against OEM's that have tried to bundle Non-Microsoft-Approved software with their PCs. Next, they free up the OEMs to display icons on the default Windows desktop as they see fit, including launching programs on the first start-up or even installing an alternative Operating System to boot into. This is probably one of the first and most exciting parts of this Decree, as it frees up the OEMs to offer Linux and other alternative operating systems preinstalled. The Decree goes on to instruct Microsoft to make available it's APIs to the end that people will be able to choose their own Middleware (Internet Explorer and it's previous inability to uninstall is a good example of this). The last major judgment is that Microsoft must offer to license any intellectual property rights that must be available to comply with the judgment. It essentially ends by saying that nothing in the judgment obligates Microsoft to compromise security of any application. Whew.

The Most Important Parts: Number 1, Stop Ruining the World

Microsoft shall not retaliate against or threaten retaliation against an OEM by altering Microsoft's commercial relations with that OEM, or by withholding newly introduced forms of non-monetary Consideration (including but not limited to new versions of existing forms of non-monetary Consideration) from that OEM, because it is known to Microsoft that the OEM is or is contemplating:
1. developing, distributing, promoting, using, selling, or licensing any software that competes with Microsoft Platform Software or any product or service that distributes or promotes any Non-Microsoft Middleware;
2. shipping a Personal Computer that (a) includes both a Windows Operating System Product and a non-Microsoft Operating System, or (b) will boot with more than one Operating System;

Issue Number One we're tackling here is Microsoft's behavior towards OEMs when an OEM attempts to provide any software or bundled package on a computer that is not Microsoft approved. Up until this point, Microsoft has used threats of withholding Windows licenses from said OEM if they attempted to include anything of the such. Withholding Windows licenses would effectively run that OEM into the ground, as Windows is the dominant operating system.

Why is this good? In my opinion, this is the first and most critical step in encouraging competition in the technology marketplace. Putting aside Microsoft's success or failure to continue to innovate during their time as Monopoly, it has been proven time and time again that competition can be a catalyst for the new ideas that will become tomorrows great technology. Whenever a company has a monopoly and uses that monopoly to hold down or stifle technology of any sort, the technology sector suffers. It is important that people have the choice to become aware of new technology, even if they choose not to, so that those that do choose to can continue to contribute to further advancement.

TMIP: Number 2, Stop Extorting Me

Microsoft's provision of Windows Operating System Products to Covered OEMs shall be pursuant to uniform license agreements with uniform terms and conditions. Without limiting the foregoing, Microsoft shall charge each Covered OEM the applicable royalty for Windows Operating System Products as set forth on a schedule, to be established by Microsoft and published on a web site accessible to the Plaintiffs and all Covered OEMs, that provides for uniform royalties for Windows Operating System Products...

I'm not going to hang on this too long, because it's not that difficult to understand. Barring volume discounts and other reasonable modifications, Microsoft will have to publish their costs and the cost will have to be largely uniform.

This is important because it's easy (and common) for a monopoly company to sell or license their products at different costs depending on the reseller. This doesn't sound so bad until Microsoft tries to charge you 5 times the normal amount for a Windows license just because you were trying to bundle Linux.

TMIP: Number 3, Stop Beating Up the Other Kids on the Playground

Microsoft shall not restrict by agreement any OEM licensee from exercising any of the following options or alternatives:
2. Distributing or promoting Non-Microsoft Middleware by installing and displaying on the desktop shortcuts of any size or shape so long as such shortcuts do not impair the functionality of the user interface.
4. Offering users the option of launching other Operating Systems from the Basic Input/Output System or a non-Microsoft boot-loader or similar program that launches prior to the start of the Windows Operating System Product.

They talk about Middleware in number 2, there, and they are talking largely about things like Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and MSN Instant Messenger. In the past these products were installed by default, you were offered no other choices, and you could not uninstall them. Also this section talks about letting end users and OEMs doing whatever they want with the Windows desktop. Number 4 addresses a very large complaint that many Linux/Unix (*nix) users have: because of Microsoft threats, we can't get *nix preinstalled and set up on an OEM computer. This judgment is opening the door for OEMs to offer their customers a choice of what they want to use. The judgment goes on to call for Microsoft to make available the APIs for their middleware so that competitors can develop more advanced software that will still work well with Windows.

This goes back to my first point of stifling technology. Some may think Internet Explorer is the best browser, some may prefer Netscape or Konqueror or Opera. By eliminating the choice of someone to find that out for themselves, you severely limit possible technological development. This even more so when you limit the population to one operating system. There will always be someone out there that will eventually be able to do it better, but with an illegal monopoly in place, it will be almost impossible for a new idea to ever be realized. It will be much less likely for that idea to succeed. It will be almost impossible for us as a technology culture to learn and grow and lead the world into unexplored territory.

TMIP: Number Four, Stop Being Stingy

I. Microsoft shall offer to license to ISVs, IHVs, IAPs, ICPs, and OEMs any intellectual property rights owned or licensable by Microsoft that are required to exercise any of the options or alternatives expressly provided to them under this Final Judgment, provided that
1. all terms, including royalties or other payment of monetary consideration, are reasonable and non-discriminatory;
2. the scope of any such license (and the intellectual property rights licensed thereunder) need be no broader than is necessary to ensure that an ISV, IHV, IAP, ICP or OEM is able to exercise the options or alternatives expressly provided under this Final Judgment (e.g., an ISV's, IHV's, IAP's, ICP's and OEM's option to promote Non-Microsoft Middleware...

Again, not too much to say here. Microsoft will have to at least offer to license any intellectual property that they solely posses that is needed to comply with this judgment.

This is needed to ensure that Microsoft complies not with just the letter of this Decree but with the spirit of it as well. People will need information that only Microsoft has. We don't deny that it's theirs, but we are going to obligate them to at least license the information instead of keeping it a big secret.

Here's The Catch

I say that this is a catch because I firmly believe that the inclusion of this last part will be the main topic of discussion and will be exploited to great lengths by Microsoft.

J. No provision of this Final Judgment shall:
1. Require Microsoft to document, disclose or license to third parties:
(a) portions of APIs or Documentation or portions or layers of Communications Protocols the disclosure of which would compromise the security of a particular installation or group of installations of anti-piracy, anti-virus, software licensing, digital rights management, encryption or authentication systems, including without limitation, keys, authorization tokens or enforcement criteria; or
(b) any API, interface or other information related to any Microsoft product if lawfully directed not to do so by a governmental agency of competent jurisdiction.

We're saying that Microsoft doesn't have to give up anything that is going to compromise the security of a given program or part of Windows. That makes sense, right? Well, not so fast.

Part of the problem is that Microsoft's past ideas of what must be kept secret to protect the security of the system were part of the problem to begin with. They would not release their APIs previous to this court case for this very reason. What I predict is that Microsoft will twist that section to their every advantage to ensure the now-questionable existence of their TCPA/Palladium project. Not only that, but I foresee a continued bumpy road for the relationship between developers and Microsoft. Developers may have significant work ahead of them when it comes to getting Microsoft to supply everything that developers need to create competitive "middleware".

I'm Done, What did you Conclude?

Again, the whole point of this is to hear what other people think about today's decisions. What are your predictions, and what are the uses that you see that can be drawn from today's Decree? Obviously the settlement the DOJ struck with Microsoft was not totally satisfactory to all, and that's (unfortunately) to be expected when dealing with a company as successful as Microsoft. Despite this, today's judgment unlocks and opens a couple of figurative doors that are unquestionably key to emancipating the desktop computer. This gives us a platform, a starting place, somewhere we (or at least I) can once again draw hope from.

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A Look at the "Final Decree" | 107 comments (95 topical, 12 editorial, 1 hidden)
Linux preinstalled (4.20 / 5) (#2)
by Cloaked User on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 07:28:28 PM EST

because of Microsoft threats, we can't get *nix preinstalled and setup on an OEM computer

Yes, you can. See for example dnuk.com, which sells prebuilt, custom-configured desktops, workstations and servers with a choice of either Windows or Linux pre-installed (or both).
--
"What the fuck do you mean 'Are you inspired to come to work'? Of course I'm not 'inspired'. It's a job for God's sake! The money's enough and the work's not so crap that I leave."

Well, technically (4.33 / 3) (#6)
by DanTheCat on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 08:53:51 PM EST

Sure, they offer a dual-boot setup, but they also charge you 70 pounds to add windows XP home edition. (default is no windows installed) I can go down to my local computer wharehouse place and pay about that much if I buy any computer hardware, including a $2 tube of thermal paste and other similar items. The issue the story is bringing up is for larger OEMs that the average user has heard about, like Gateway or eMachines. Do you really think WinXP Home Edition costs Gateway 70 pounds per computer???

This really is a big step, if it actually comes to pass.

Dan :)

<--->
I was in need of help
Heading to black out
'Til someone told me 'run on in honey
Before someone blows your god damn brains out'<
[ Parent ]

Thrill to the amazing 1-port firewall! (3.33 / 3) (#27)
by Greyjack on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 03:11:13 AM EST

I can't help but wonder about the competence of a vendor that sells a firewall appliance with only one network port.

(Actually, now that I think about it, that's a damn good way to make sure no verboten packets are going from your internal network to the outside)

--
Here is my philosophy: Everything changes (the word "everything" has just changed as the word "change" has: it now means "no change") --Ron Padgett


[ Parent ]
2 things (none / 0) (#29)
by 0xA on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 03:43:33 AM EST

1. They say that you can order more 100 mbit or gigabit interfaces right on the page.

2. You don't really _need_ more than one ethernet interface in a firewall. It is certinly a good idea and vastly simpler but not absolutely required.

[ Parent ]

depends on your point of view (none / 0) (#55)
by tzanger on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 01:08:16 PM EST

You don't really _need_ more than one ethernet interface in a firewall. It is certinly a good idea and vastly simpler but not absolutely required.

Depends on your idea of security, I suppose, but having physical separation of logical networks is absolutely essential in my view. With only one network port, there is nothing stopping an eavesdropper on the WAN segment from seeing all your local traffic. Switches help here, but for CDN$20, why would you even bother with only one ethernet interface?



[ Parent ]
RE: depends on your point of view (none / 0) (#67)
by styrotech on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 04:21:19 PM EST

why would you even bother with only one ethernet interface?

When your internet connection is something other than ethernet perhaps?

[ Parent ]

Smartass [NT] (none / 0) (#89)
by tzanger on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 10:12:32 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#59)
by strlen on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 03:01:56 PM EST

That indeed is strange. But, what I think, is likely the network adapters allows for an additional rj45 connector to the added (it's possible to have a network adapter with multiple ports), or more network adapters could be inserted through PCI slots.

And actually, it is indeed possible to use one ethernet card for a firewall or a router, but you're going to get such an incredible number of collisions, that it will be virtually unusable.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]

Collisions? (5.00 / 1) (#82)
by derobert on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 11:31:45 AM EST

Collisions aren't a problem if you run in full-duplex mode. You can send and receive at the same time. One port would be fine with, e.g., a switch with VLAN support.

[ Parent ]
APIs (3.75 / 4) (#3)
by j1mmy on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 07:30:43 PM EST

would not release their APIs previous to this court case for this very reason.

Which APIs are being referred to, here? MSDN has no shortage of developer documentation and I find it hard to believe there's that many APIs hidden in MS Products.

No need to hide APIs any more (3.60 / 5) (#20)
by tftp on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 11:19:09 PM EST

MS produced so many APIs, created so many unique data types, classes and objects, so at this time it just can put any API there, and nobody will ever find it, let alone figure how to use it without crashing the box. That would be a MSDN support question, at $100 per call or something... and MSDN people have no obligation to answer if they are ordered not to. Just call it an "experimental feature". Most of those APIs are like that anyway, complex, with one being totally different from another in design, naming and usage. MS APIs are so expensive to use nowadays that it pays to use replacement APIs that are of higher quality (Qt would be one.)

[ Parent ]
The API abuses are a small fraction of the total. (4.50 / 2) (#50)
by Futurepower on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 12:15:18 PM EST

I agree, but there is more that should be said. In discussions of Microsoft shortcomings and abuses such as the poorly designed API and the sneaky use of the API, the overall issue is often not discussed explicitly. The overall issue is that Microsoft is abusive in many, many ways, not just the few that are discussed in the anti-trust documents or here.

For an example of a few more Microsoft abuses and shortcomings, see Windows XP Shows the Direction Microsoft is Going.

[ Parent ]
Alledgedly... (4.33 / 3) (#33)
by R343L on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 07:58:43 AM EST

I don't know if this is true, but alledgely there were for a while API calls to the OS not published anywhere that allowed MS user applications (Word, etc.) to run faster or more efficiently or integrate more tightly with the OS. Since they weren't published, presumably competitors (e.g. WordPerfect) couldn't compete as well.

But as I said, I don't know if this is true.

Rachael
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

It's true (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by FlipFlop on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 03:32:31 PM EST

I know someone who had a problem where their software would encounter random, unpredictable errors (I'm being intentionally vague here). They reverse engineered part of Windows to discover that Microsoft software was accessing a resource using an undocumented API. It turns out that if you use the undocumented API, you can steal control of the resource from someone who used the documented API.

The result was, Microsoft software ran faster and more reliably. Non-Microsoft software was slower and had random, unpredictable errors.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

Wow ... (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by R343L on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 03:44:17 PM EST

Any more details? That sounds interesting..

Rachael
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

Nope (4.33 / 3) (#69)
by FlipFlop on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 05:48:45 PM EST

They never figured out where the undocumented API was. They only know that the resource was being called from someplace other than the documented API. If Microsoft knew how they fixed the problem, their product would probably stop working with the next service pack.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

"Microsoft software ran faster and more relia (none / 0) (#102)
by killmepleez on Wed Nov 06, 2002 at 09:34:01 AM EST

I know someone who had a problem where their software would encounter random, unpredictable errors

Wow, you know Marc Andreesen? I'm impressed.
--

__
"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "Jumpers" in The New Yorker, October 13, 2003.
[ Parent ]
Yes, that's true (5.00 / 2) (#75)
by greenrd on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:55:27 PM EST

For a relatively trivial example off the top of my head - although a very visible one - there was a time when some MS apps (Office?) used an "undocumented" API to change window decorations (icons/titlebar etc.), whereas if you stuck with only the documented API you couldn't change any of that.

Of course, it eventually became an officially documented part of the Windows API to be able to put custom icons in the corner of your windows etc. (I assume, because it's normal now). But with these things MS's internal app teams tend to get a head start over outsiders, simply because they have privileged access to code and APIs.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

No, it's not (none / 0) (#99)
by spectecjr on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 08:37:12 PM EST

For a relatively trivial example off the top of my head - although a very visible one - there was a time when some MS apps (Office?) used an "undocumented" API to change window decorations (icons/titlebar etc.), whereas if you stuck with only the documented API you couldn't change any of that. Of course, it eventually became an officially documented part of the Windows API to be able to put custom icons in the corner of your windows etc. (I assume, because it's normal now). But with these things MS's internal app teams tend to get a head start over outsiders, simply because they have privileged access to code and APIs. Hmmm... Sounds like they're hooking the WM_NC* set of messages and handling them appropriately. That, and Office tends to write all their own UI controls from scratch. So they don't have to use a standard title bar. You can do this too if you want. It's easy. You just have to write everything yourself. And WM_NC* has been documented since before Windows 95 was released. Sorry. Simon

[ Parent ]
Undocument API references (5.00 / 1) (#100)
by cts on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 05:52:19 AM EST

Undocumented Windows: A Programmer's Guide to Reserved Microsoft Windows API Functions
Andrew Schulman, David Maxey, and Matt Pietrek
Addison-Wesley, 1992
715 pages, $49.95
ISBN 0-201-60834-0
(stolen from the DDJ review)
Here is the link to the DDJ review by Ray Duncan. Duncan even makes a rip on the New Hackers Dictionary.

It's about win 3.0 I believe. Which is when these things were supposed to be happening, I think. Perhaps there are incidents related Win32 as well, but I stopped paying as much attention.

Also, Andrew Schulman did the article about the Win3.1 beta/DR-DOS "debacle" and here is the Microsoft responce.

I can't, for the life of me, remember if he was involved in the anti-trust suit or not. He was involved in others. I got these links off of a quick google session, please post more good ones. Any good reviews of any other books?

I am up way too late (posting late too).
Have fun,
cts

P.S. Ahh... Dr. Dobbs Journal. That really was an execlent mag.

[ Parent ]
Ask the Wine folks. (4.50 / 6) (#57)
by Peaker on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 01:51:59 PM EST

I'm sure they opened up the MSDN, and yet it wasn't enough for Win32 applications to run on Wine easily.

[ Parent ]
This demolishes the concept of antitrust (4.57 / 21) (#11)
by Perpetual Newbie on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 09:21:24 PM EST

I am furious about this agreement and CKK's acceptance of it.

Every single act which Microsoft is now forbidden to do by this "punishment" had already been forbidden by existing antitrust law, including the Sherman Anti-Trust Act which makes it illegal to even attempt to monopolize a market.

By enumerating such things as forbidden, the government is allowing Microsoft to commit illegal acts which are not spelled out in the agreement.

This seems to be intentional. Bush sent an envoy to tell the European Union that "the theory of monopoly leveraging has been largely if not entirely rejected by our courts". Philip Beck, one of the prosecuting lawyers from the new administration, has said that he does not believe that Microsoft committed any wrongdoing and did not want to punish Microsoft. And from the rumour mill, Antitrust Department head Charles James was supposedly overheard saying that it would take years to undo the damage caused by the Clinton administration's successful prosecution of lawbreaking corporations.

This comes from a sinister theory about government and commerce in which it is assumed that anybody with money and power should be allowed to do whatever they want with that money and power because they can and therefore have the "right" to do such such things. It is the same theory which produces language like "the right to own property, in the form of slaves" (from the Confederate Constitution).

My view? Microsoft should have been liquidated in its entirety, its IP released into the public domain, its board of directors forbidden from working in the industry for five years, its lying executives jailed for six to twenty-four months, and everyone of legal age in the United States gets a check for about $150 from Microsoft's cash on hand and short-term assets. This would have helped capitalism a hell of a lot more than allowing central points of control over the markets for computer software and hardware.



Apply your theory to Wall Street (2.00 / 3) (#25)
by Al Macintyre on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 01:01:40 AM EST

People with money and power on wall street got millions of dollars at the expense of stock market gamblers such as pension funds.  Some of those people have gone to jail, and some are facing very serious charges not yet resolved.  Some under Bush administration, some within individual states.

Could you reconcile how come this horrible stuff is happening to these people, like Martha Stewart for example.  If I understand your theory correctly, the rich wall street swindlers get away with anything, with the only ones facing the music are those who first lose all their money.
- Al's weblog: http://radio.weblogs.com/0107846/ donate your unused PC resources (only when you not using them) to cure cancer http://members.ud.com/about/
[ Parent ]

No, that is excactly the problem (4.66 / 3) (#41)
by mayor on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:23:05 AM EST

With several trilions dollars from mutual funds swindled in Wall Street, we put 2-3 people in jail to show the public that the system works and the guilty got punished. Now, back to business as usual.

How is it that you don't know? Every elementary school student knows this trick.

[ Parent ]

scapegoat (4.00 / 3) (#44)
by Arthur Treacher on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:41:33 AM EST

Oldest trick in the book.

"Henry Ford is more or less history" - Bunk
[ Parent ]
References? (none / 0) (#36)
by yooden on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:06:27 AM EST

I would love to tell this story, but it's better to have solid pointers.

[ Parent ]
Huh (1.00 / 2) (#46)
by ubu on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:49:46 AM EST

This comes from a sinister theory about government and commerce in which it is assumed that anybody with money and power should be allowed to do whatever they want with that money and power because they can and therefore have the "right" to do such such things.

What horseshit. The theory that finds antitrust legislation disgusting is the theory that Justice should be blind and that the Law applies equally to all before it. You assholes go making special laws with special enforcement doctrines for those who don't do as you prescribe — despite millions upon millions of satisfied partners and customers — and that's the really sinister theory.

You ought to be ashamed, but that gets to the whole root of your problem: no shame.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Antitrust does apply to all equally. (3.50 / 2) (#56)
by Peaker on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 01:32:32 PM EST

Just as much as normal law applies equally to murderers, and to those who don't murder, so does antitrust apply equally to monopolies who use their monopoly to monopolize new territory.

[ Parent ]
But it doesn't. (none / 0) (#107)
by synaesthesia on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 08:05:28 AM EST

As far as I can tell, the murder law does not necessarily apply equally: for example, it often depends on the colour of your skin, or in other cases, on whether you're a rich ex-sportsman.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
Satisfied? (none / 0) (#104)
by deaddrunk on Wed Nov 06, 2002 at 03:51:16 PM EST

Hardly. Just inured to the endless round of poor software with no alternatives available. You should see my dad use Windows. He's not the most patient of people anyway, but I've never heard him swear as much as when he uses Windows. If there was an alternative available that he could do the same things on but was more reliable, he would switch in a second, and so would many, many dissatisfied customers. But such a product doesn't exist, because Microsoft has spent a great deal of it's resources making sure that it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
judgment promotes litigation (3.50 / 2) (#12)
by martingale on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 09:26:23 PM EST

I think the main problem with this is that it will promote litigation.

There's enough here to allow Microsoft to argue against just about any interpretation of the settlement if it suits them. Since the conditions of applicability are both vague and there is no appointed final arbiter for defining (and checking) compliance, it will be up to the courts to decide, case by case, if any specific behaviour is an infringement or not.

Microsoft is guilty, that is beyond doubt from the findings of fact, so if someone is unhappy about the shape of the IE icon on the desktop, they'll be able to file a case and it won't be dismissed out of hand. However, the case will drag on because nobody is obviously competent to decide what constitutes, even obvious, infringement. Decisions will be expensive and apply very narrowly.

As decisions go, I think this one introduces more uncertainty than there was even during the trial. It says: you kids will have to work it out by yourselves all over again.

Terrorism (2.35 / 14) (#14)
by Death Denied on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 09:51:44 PM EST

  I've had it. This corporate invasion of our country has to stop. There are no laws that can curb this corruption of our legal system. We have seen time and again how large corporations are buying our three branches of government. Our non-violent protests everywhere have been fruitless. In some cases, our attempts at hacking their illegally backed technologies have only backfired giving them more ammuntion to attack our rights. Every attempt anyone has made so far hasn't made any real difference in what the fate of our country will be.
  It is about time someone showed these bastards who keeps them alive. We have the power to completely topple a corporate empire. We can derupt their cash flow by assassinating their financial department. We can also assassinate their executives to thwart any real reconstruction efforts. The workers and developers can be brought off by other companies leaving Microsoft as an empty shell.
  First, it is imparative that we know the locations of the executives. We have to assassinate every one of them swiftly in one stroke. We have to send a mole into their offices and send explosives into their meetings. We should send a small team of assassins to clean up the remaining survivors after the initial salvo of explosive death. There should be no executives, financial experts, lawyers, and top level developers remaining after the first salvo. Those who are outside the Redmond complex will be hunted down and killed as soon as we can find them.
  The reconstruction of Microsoft would require a lot of money. We should destroy as much as their capital as possible. After evacuating their complexes of their employees, we should steal and destroy every important piece of important electronic equiptment. We should back up and then erase their data so that we can use it to blackmail if it comes to that. After gutting their main and subsidary offices, we should launch a radiological weapon on their Redmond Campus.
  Their reconstruction should be hampered by every way possible. Anyone who tries to lead a reconstruction will be shot on site. The law enforcement will also be assassinated if they interfere with any part of our operation. The legislators who we suspect of helping the corporations will also be assassinated. Judges and jurors who rule in favor of Microsoft will also die.
  We must make a clear example here with Microsoft that the corporate encroachment into our rights must stop. By destroying a major corporation, we will show them that it is possible to destroy them. By assassinating the executives, others will realize the personal risks in being involved in large corporate infrastructures. There should be genuine fear in the reprocussions of abusing us for so long. We will attack with full force and take back our country.

Make my job easier (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by frankcrist on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 09:54:44 PM EST

The Patriot Act requires that I come to your house and kill you.  Please email me your full name, address and a picture.

--x--x--x--x--x--
Get your war on!
[ Parent ]
UnAmerican scum (3.66 / 3) (#19)
by Death Denied on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 10:16:51 PM EST

William Henry Gates III

1835 73rd Ave NE, Medina, WA 98039

[ Parent ]

did you forget to take your meds today? (1.75 / 4) (#16)
by Arthur Treacher on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 10:00:13 PM EST



"Henry Ford is more or less history" - Bunk
[ Parent ]
Funny you mention it (Re: Terrorism) (4.75 / 4) (#22)
by Perpetual Newbie on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 11:40:43 PM EST

Throughout history, injustices like this have often been responded to with riots, arson, and lynchings. I was wondering beforehand if Silicon Valley nerds would have the aggression and dis-apathy (is that a double negative?) to try to burn down the Microsoft campus in San Jose, or at least bust up the cars in the parking lot, should the decision came down this way. I sure don't, but if I don't read about some reactionary violence or the theft and destruction of MS software from store shelves in the next couple days, I will be somewhat disappointed.

[ Parent ]
Love it or Leave it (3.00 / 4) (#24)
by Al Macintyre on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 12:56:34 AM EST

Buy something else.

There are alternatives.
Live with what they can do for you.

The reality is that the mass public is buying Microsoft.

Ask yourself why OS/4 died (IBM's OS for PCs) - it could do everything Windows could do, only far better, except it did not have as many applications.

Ask yourself if Lindows will sell well or not ... it can do everything Windows can do, and is more stable.  It is based on Linux not Microsoft, and costs 1/10 as much money.
- Al's weblog: http://radio.weblogs.com/0107846/ donate your unused PC resources (only when you not using them) to cure cancer http://members.ud.com/about/
[ Parent ]

You mean OS/2? [n/t] (none / 0) (#32)
by ph317 on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 07:21:01 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#85)
by Al Macintyre on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 08:04:25 PM EST


- Al's weblog: http://radio.weblogs.com/0107846/ donate your unused PC resources (only when you not using them) to cure cancer http://members.ud.com/about/
[ Parent ]
Not so simple (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by reid on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:48:52 AM EST

Ask yourself why OS/4 died (IBM's OS for PCs) - it could do everything Windows could do, only far better, except it did not have as many applications.

Answered your own question there, wouldn't you say? It's natural for people to go where the applications are.

I was a Unix guy in the late '80s and '90s, so I came to the PC world a bit late. In the late '90s and today, the consumer PC market is geared to nothing but Windows. Stores like CompUSA and Dell sell nothing but Windows on PCs (and that includes the little local independent shops), fostering a perception that a PC == Windows. Software available at Best Buy is all made for Windows. Hardware lists various flavors of Windows as requirements. Given these conditions, it's obvious why consumers "choose" Windows (only a hobbyist or industry person would even be aware of alternatives), and frankly, it's the sensible choice for most people. (The problem, of course, is when MS abuses this market power.) Simply telling people to "buy something else" sounds good but is not practical for most. There's a chicken-and-egg problem: until more people use Linux or other OS's, there won't be mainstream support and software written for it, and there won't be a large scale exodus to said OS's until there's more software and hardware support.

I'm hopeful that Linux will start making serious inroads on business desktops, where software needs aren't so varied and supposedly knowledgable people run things. That could lead to grater mindshare and more consumer acceptance down the line.



[ Parent ]
More to it than that (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by hardburn on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 04:05:23 PM EST

I'm hopeful that Linux will start making serious inroads on buisiness desktops, where software needs aren't so varied and supposedly knowledgable people run things. That could lead to grater mindshare and more consumer acceptance down the line.

Actually, it's worse in the business arena, software-wise. Most of the software created is never put on store shelves. It is created by a specific buisiness (or they outsourced the development) for a specific purpose and would be of little intrest to anyone else. Naturally, a good chunk of these programs are for Win32.

Porting them would require getting the orginal programmers to do the work (if they even still work for you), rehiring the outsourced development company (who are going to want more money, and they might not even do the platform you want to move to), or getting a bunch of new programmers to port the old code (takes a lot of time for them to get familer with the code base, which means more $$$). If only one buisness-critical app isn't ported, that would be enough to keep them on Windows.

Additionally, while well-written C/C++ should port fairly easily, there are a lot of really, really dumb programmers out there who can barely get their code to work on different versions of Windows much less an entirely new platform. And if it's written in VB, you might as well start from scratch.

Quite a hairball.

Our one repreive is that a lot of new stuff is being written in Java. Addmittedly, Sun has over-hyped Java's "write once, run anywhere" philosophy. However, even a bad programmer probably won't screw it up too badly ("Why doesn't 'C:\Program Files' work on Unix?"). The Java code of our hypothetical bad programmer would probably be easier to port than the same coder doing the same program using C/C++. And a competiant coder can usually move the Java .class files directly to the new platform and run.

Unfortunately, probably an equal ammount of new stuff is also written in VB. *sigh*


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
Alright! (none / 0) (#53)
by DavidTC on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 12:45:45 PM EST

Is there somewhere we can make a donation if we don't live near Microsoft?

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]
Wow. (none / 0) (#101)
by CodeWright on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 01:20:49 PM EST

That's a bit maniacal.

I thought they already locked up Ted Kaczinski? (sp?)

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
what it means (4.33 / 3) (#17)
by Arthur Treacher on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 10:04:34 PM EST

This reaction from a couple of the participants should give you an idea of who won and who lost.

"Henry Ford is more or less history" - Bunk
From your link... (3.75 / 4) (#21)
by Ricochet Rita on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 11:40:14 PM EST

"It's a major milestone," Gates said of the decision to accept nearly all the company's proposed settlement with the Justice Department. "I am personally committed to full compliance."

Pretty obvious that something funny's going on, if he's that ecstatic about his "punishment."

It's a sad sad day.

R

R

FABRICATUS DIEM, PVNC!
[ Parent ]

Yeah (3.00 / 2) (#28)
by carbon on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 03:19:34 AM EST

And the something funny is: He's just talking to the cameras. What news companies quote him saying has nothing to do with what he actually thinks.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
Ask CNN (none / 0) (#39)
by dachshund on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:16:05 AM EST

Or this headline from CNN Europe:

Microsoft's 'Stunning' Win Could End Anti-Trust Battle

Despite the widely held view that the ruling was a victory for Microsoft, the state attorneys general who fought for more sanctions tried to present an upbeat perspective. They said Kollar-Kotelly improved the decree and that it now protects consumers, encourages competition and helps the industry.


[ Parent ]
Technology Leaders (none / 0) (#92)
by WebBug on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 12:57:28 PM EST

The thing that irks me is that M$ is neither the inovator nor the technology leader in the computer industry.

M$ is always making noise about how they have been an inovator in the computer industry. Not one single M$ product has EVER been even remotely inovative or technologically leading. Every thing they have ever done has been a rip-off, buy-out, or knock-off of other very successful products.

Just because more people use M$ products does not mean that they are technically better or inovative.

sigh.

BTW: the "security" clause IS all M$ needs to continue with current behaviour. Ya, they have to treat OEM's "equally", but that doesn't mean fair and reasonable.
-- It may be that your sole purpose is to server as a warning to others . . . at least I have one!
[ Parent ]

There need to be only one resolution (4.50 / 4) (#18)
by Talez on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 10:08:01 PM EST

The key word is:

Interoperability

While there is no interoperability there will be no competition. Microsoft should be able to charge whatever it wants and put on any restrictions it wants on licensing to OEMs. The point is there needs to be a competing product or letting Microsoft run rampant will just harm the consumer.

I say keep them on a short leash and divulge everything people would need to know to make competition happen. Then once there are competing (and compatible) operating systems, let Microsoft go and run wild. They'll either drop their prices and licensing restrictions and compete or they'll run themselves into the ground trying to keep their current systems.

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est

Admiting ignorance (4.33 / 6) (#31)
by Holloway on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 04:54:55 AM EST

J. No provision of this Final Judgment shall:
1. Require Microsoft to document, disclose or license to third parties: (a) portions of APIs or Documentation or portions or layers of Communications Protocols the disclosure of which would compromise the security of a particular installation or group of installations of anti-piracy, anti-virus, software licensing, digital rights management, encryption or authentication systems, including without limitation, keys, authorization tokens or enforcement criteria; or
(b) any API, interface or other information related to any Microsoft product if lawfully directed not to do so by a governmental agency of competent jurisdiction.
From this I get the feeling that the judge is saying that they don't understand how restrictions would affect software in general. This part is so non-commital as to make it obvious that the judge doesn't trust themselves to make specific and detailed restrictions because they don't understand what's going on. So they make a decision from where they are, and they're left with this disclaimer more for the judges benefit than Microsofts'.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

Written by MS? (5.00 / 1) (#73)
by greenrd on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:39:29 PM EST

That clause sounds like it was written by MS lawyers. It's just perfect for Palladium.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Strange but what about the victim? (2.50 / 4) (#34)
by HidingMyName on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 08:41:26 AM EST

The message I get from this whole thing is:
  • Netscape lost.They lost even back in the original decision by Judge Jackson. They are never going to get back what they lost due to what Microsoft's behavior.
  • Small companies run over by big companies like this can't trust the U.S. court system to enforce the laws on the books (under this administration) and when they are enforced the penalties won't fix the problem.
  • Because of the delays in this suit, the initial issues became non-issues and the court was so slow that it was barred from deciding on the currently relevant issues.
So I guess the 9 dissenting states will continue to fight on, but my bet is that the courts will decide this well before the current administration leaves office, and with the foxes guarding the hen house, they won't get significant concessions.

my thoughts on the ruling (5.00 / 7) (#35)
by adamba on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 10:12:47 AM EST

1) People who complain about how Judge Kollar-Kotelly acted should understand that she was in a different position than Judge Jackson. He was issuing a ruling after a trial. She was deciding to accept or reject a settlement negotiated by both parties. Thus, he had complete freedom to do come up with whatever settlement he wanted, while she could not make any changes (technically, she did not accept the settlement, but gave the parties a week to make minor changes to produce a settlement she will accept).

2) The outcome was really determined by the US Supreme Court, on November 7, 2000, when they rejected the Democratic challenge to the Florida vote and declared George W. Bush the president. With a Republican administration, the desire to pursue this case at the federal level went away, and a soft settlement was inevitable. Are all the geeks complaining about the result so politically naive that they don't realize this?

3) Once again -- once again!, for about the twentieth time in a row!! -- Microsoft has been blessed with opponents who messed up. This time it was the 9 Attorney Generals who insisted on proposing a settlement that was so over-reaching that the judge had little choice but to ignore it.

4) The real unfortunate part of the judge's ruling was her somewhat baffling decision to replace the technical oversight committee with a corporate board committee. The problem is, this transfers debates over compliance from the technical arena to the legal one. I pictured the technical committee as being pretty cut-and-dried: here's the API or protocol, should it be documented, is it documented, decided on a technical basis. Any question on the applicability of the settlement to an API (did the clause about compromising security affect it, say) could be kicked out to the lawyers, but only if the (quasi-independent) technical committee wishes to do so.

Now instead you have the board members. So if some small company comes and says, "I think the 12th bit of this DWORD passed as the third parameter to this API is not documented right," what is a board member going to do about that? So any dispute will wind up back in court and we'll have more of the same legal-argument-by-bad-analogy that plagued the initial case.

- adam

Security Loophole (4.25 / 4) (#37)
by Mul Triha on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:14:36 AM EST

The security loophole:

 (a) portions of APIs or Documentation or portions or layers of Communications Protocols the disclosure of which would compromise the security of a particular installation or group of installations of anti-piracy, anti-virus, software licensing, digital rights management, encryption or authentication systems, including without limitation, keys, authorization tokens or enforcement criteria; or

Isn't as big as you think. As the judge explained in her ruling the reason this won't let them keep all their stuff secret is the phrase "would compromise". Not that might or could, but would. They can't say, that's security stuff we can't let it out. They have to be able to show that disclosuring the API would cause a compromise of the security feature.

If you request an API from Microsoft and they use this cop-out, I recommmend submitting it to BUGTRAQ immediately. Them using this means that the API in request is so horribly insecure that knowing how to use would compromise it, something which wouldn't make sense for an operating system which claims to be secure.
QUACK!

But that is precisely the problem (5.00 / 3) (#62)
by hardburn on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 03:41:36 PM EST

If you request an API from Microsoft and they use this cop-out, I recommmend submitting it to BUGTRAQ immediately. Them using this means that the API in request is so horribly insecure that knowing how to use would compromise it, something which wouldn't make sense for an operating system which claims to be secure.

Exactly, which is why that clause shouldn't be there at all. Making your security based keeping your API secret is just plain bad software design. Having that clause in there will actually encourage further poor development choices.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
Splitting OS and Apps (4.40 / 5) (#38)
by AlephNull on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:15:49 AM EST

One of the (dropped) remedies demanded early on in this whole thing was for the OS division to be separate from the App division.

Now Microsoft has just announced that it intends to drop Win9x support for Office in its next version, citing that this would allow Office to be a more stable and secure product. Fair enough perhaps, but it will also be used as a stick to get people to upgrade their OS.

Now, if Microsoft App Corp had no control over the upgrade strategy of Microsoft OS Corp, they would not be able to force the issue and would have to continue supporting OS's for which there is a large user base simply because they could not afford to lose a large portion of their own customer base.
--------------------
Political correctness is doubleplusungood.

Win9x (3.20 / 5) (#42)
by godix on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:32:54 AM EST

Win9x is between 2 and 7 years old depending on which specific version you're talking about. Exactly how long do you expect companies to support old products?

Besides for a change MS is right. Win9x is a lot more unsecure and a lot less stable than the winnt family. Removing support for an unsecure and buggy OS will produce a product more stable and more secure. I have many complaints about MS, but this isn't one of them.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]

Missed the point (3.75 / 4) (#49)
by reid on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 12:02:37 PM EST

His point is that there is still a huge number of Windows 9x installations out there.  If the Office company was separate from the OS company, the Office company would have no choice but to target all those desktops.  With both being controlled by one company, dropping Office support can be used as a stick to force upgrades to benefit the OS side of the house.

Besides, it seems somewhat arbitrary to me.  What happened to platform compatibility via Win32?  Shouldn't something that runs on XP also run on 9x?  Is there going to be a simple "if (OS == 9x) then exit" check?  I'm not much of a Windows developer, so I don't know.  I just know that lots of other software works on both.


[ Parent ]

theres... (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by Work on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 12:24:01 PM EST

way more to compatability than simple integer sizes. Especially in a huge, complicated product like office which integrates itself with alot of things.

This is just a guess, but I imagine they're trying to lock it down quite a bit more as part of their trusted computing initiative. What I mean by that is making it more secure and less vulnerable to those monthly plague of viruses. Theres also stability (ellen feiss bitching about her paper being lost on those mac commercials rings true with many people) which is related mainly to the OS's handling of memory. Of course I dont know technical details, but win2k and XP are far more secure on many fronts, from memory protection to other things that the win9x platform simply doesnt have and never CAN have as a result of its rather archaic architecture.

In any case, MS product support life has always been 5 years. The last 9x product to come out was ME, and that was awhile back. office 11 wont come out for at least another year (probably 2 as delays always happen) which will put its release near the end of the standard death of support for ME.

[ Parent ]

How much is intentional... (none / 0) (#96)
by Gooba42 on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 05:04:04 PM EST

Your suggestion at the coincidental death of ME's support and the release of the next version of Office sort of struck a chord here.

Why is it going to take 2 years for MS to add a bunch of relatively minor features to Office? And if they aren't adding features, then why a new version?

In my household we've got a mishmush of machines with a copy of Office 97 and a copy of Office 2000. Aside from new icons and more integration, of dubious quality, what did we gain between those versions? I have yet to recognize a significant difference. Intended or not, your post is suggestive of a planned obsolesence method of marketing.

If the technical merits won't convince you to upgrade, why should the version number? Office's flaws really ought to be internal. At worst the combination of Win9x with a new version of Office will expose the bad coding of Office to the bad coding of Windows. The problem is not with supporting an old version but in hiding/buffering new bugs against their own unfixed mistakes.

Instead of an app maker prodding an OS maker to patch problems we have an app maker prodding users to change their OS.



[ Parent ]
Selection (3.25 / 4) (#52)
by Mardy on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 12:25:11 PM EST

Illo de abandonar Win9x es, in mi opinion, un selection commercial de Microsoft, non technic. Il es ver que il ha alicun differentia in le API del duo versiones, ma isto es un problema superabile.

On non debe oblidar que Microsoft possede le codice surgente sia de Win9x, sia de WinNT, sia de Office: si illes vole, illes pote integrar in Office pro Win9x tote le functionalitates que illes necessita.
===========
That of abandon Win9x is, in my opinion, a commercial choice of Microsoft, not a technical one. It is true that there is some difference in the API os the two versions, but this is a superable problem.
One has not to forget that Microsoft owns the source code of Win9x, of WinNT, and of Office too: if they want, they can integrate in Office for Win9x all the functionalities they need.

Salute, Mardy
Interlingua
[ Parent ]

Not really.... (3.00 / 1) (#74)
by DeadBaby on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:49:52 PM EST

When Office 11 actually comes out (at lesat 12-18 months) 9x will be 3-4 years old. It makes no sense to support it. The whole point of Microsoft dropping 9x was to stream-line the development process. Many other companies are dropping 9x support in the near future.

If you have a lot of 9x machines, stick with XP or 2k. It seems easy enough to me. More likely than not those old machines won't run Office 11 very well anyway.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]

So very wrong (none / 0) (#103)
by deaddrunk on Wed Nov 06, 2002 at 03:37:58 PM EST

Why should they if Win9x meets their needs? The technology sector may have a 2 year upgrade cycle but the vast majority of large-scale processing is still done on IBM mainframes, all of which pretty much support stuff written 30 years ago. Why is this? Because they do what the companies want and the cost to change is an unnecessary expense when it works the way they want it to.

[ Parent ]
How about for as long as their copyright runs? (4.75 / 4) (#76)
by Ruidh on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:56:46 PM EST

That's how long they should support old software.
"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."
[ Parent ]
I quite agree (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by Captain Bonzo on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 08:51:03 AM EST

I want a new version of Word for DOS. It is disgraceful that I have to run 15 year old software on my DOS machine.

[ Parent ]
how long (none / 0) (#93)
by ethereal on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 01:18:15 PM EST

The support decision should be based on customer needs, not on the business need to drive customers to a new platform, though. Do customers still need Win 9x? Businesses in other industries either listen to their customers, or lose business. Why is Microsoft any different?

Because it's a monopoly, of course. But we already kenw that.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

The security exemption (3.66 / 3) (#40)
by Paul Johnson on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:16:34 AM EST

Part of the Judgement permits MS to refuse to disclose an API if doing so would damage security.

This was criticised by many people, including me.

However I'm now much happier about it. MS can't just say "this protocol is security critical so we are not telling people about it" merely because the protocol happens to carry passwords. Basically there would have to be a specific security hole that affected a particular set of PCs before this exemption can be invoked.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

New market for MS (3.00 / 2) (#48)
by nusuth on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 12:01:20 PM EST

I guess the most MS way of dealing that would be hiring hackers and trojan, virus writers, buy their previous work, monolopize malware market and make sure that no part of windows is secure.

[ Parent ]
VirusPro 2003 (none / 0) (#95)
by eudas on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 02:59:05 PM EST

heh, that would be amusing. viruses written by professionals. maybe they could write some spam-eating viruses that scour the net and eat up (delete) spam (or UCE if you prefer)... :P

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Bzzzt. Nice try. (5.00 / 3) (#79)
by kcbrown on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:56:25 PM EST

However I'm now much happier about it. MS can't just say "this protocol is security critical so we are not telling people about it" merely because the protocol happens to carry passwords. Basically there would have to be a specific security hole that affected a particular set of PCs before this exemption can be invoked.
Just who do you think gets to decide whether or not the release of an API would compromise the security of existing installations, huh? The customers and/or the developers? Yeah, right.

No, the people who get to decide that are either the members of that corporate board (we know how unbiased they're going to be, don't we?) or a court.

So if you, a developer, demand to see the documentation for an API and Microsoft says "sorry, no can do, it'll break security", you get to spend all your time and money suing them.

Now given the outcome of this antitrust trial, who do you think is going to win that one, huh? And that's assuming that you even manage to survive long enough to hear the ruling. Chances are you'll be out of money way before then.

No, that loophole is exactly as big as we fear it is, if not bigger.

[ Parent ]

Open source licensing (4.60 / 10) (#43)
by Paul Johnson on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:35:46 AM EST

APIs are to be licensed to competitors under "Reasonable And Non Discriminatory" (RAND) terms. There are also non-disclosure agreements keeping these APIs secret.

The judge accepted this on the grounds that to require free public disclosure and use of these APIs would be to confiscate MS intellectual property. This suggests that she has not properly understood the nature of the property involved. The small details of an API or protocol are essentially arbitrary. The value of a particular API lies purely in its capacity to allow interoperation, rather than in any inherent advantage of one data structure over another. Therefore to allow MS to restrict the publication of these APIs is to implicity endorse their right to restrict interoperability.

Open source software has two problems with such licensed APIs:

1: Open source is licensed to all-comers without any requirement to notify or pay the original developers. Hence the developers cannot act as a conduit for license payments to MS.

2: Open source publishes the source code. It is generally held amongst software engineers that the source code is tantamount to publishing the data.

However this may not be quite as cut and dried as it appears.

On the license fee front, there is nothing to stop the developer or distributor of some open source software stating that the license is only granted if MS are paid the necessary fee directly (OK, so its not strictly speaking "open source" in this case, but bear with me). Since the "reasonable" fee for an API is likely to be quite small compared to one of their complete packages, MS would be put in the difficult position of collecting lots of very small amounts of money, and AFAIK the original developers would not have done anything wrong.

On the published source problem, everyone seems to assume that publishing the source code that uses an API is tantamount to publishing the documentation of that API. I'm not so sure. Any object code that uses an API can be reverse engineered by anyone sufficiently skilled and determined. Publishing the source code makes the reverse engineering easier, but changes nothing qualitative in the situation. Source code comments would have to be eliminated though.

The point of all this is not to accept the MS settlement as a good thing, but to refuse to accept its effective prohibition of open source software.

Suppose, for example, that someone signed the NDAs, looked at an API, and then wrote a little open-source application that used it. The application might require license fees paid to MS. Anyone looking at the application source code would find the API much easier to reverse-engineer without having to sign an NDA.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

Not quite true (none / 0) (#106)
by stareja on Thu Nov 07, 2002 at 06:29:41 PM EST

This would work, except that most NDA's that involve source prohibit you from releasing said source. So, while opensource programmers could license the API's, they would be restricted from releasing the parts of their code that used them.

Of course, this all depends on how MS words the NDA.

[ Parent ]

Anti-trust case lists tiny fraction of the abuses. (2.66 / 3) (#47)
by Futurepower on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:58:59 AM EST

Note that the Microsoft abuses listed in the anti-trust case are only a tiny fraction of the total. See the article, Windows XP Shows the Direction Microsoft is Going.

Here's a thought (2.50 / 4) (#54)
by radghast on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 01:08:08 PM EST

It was in this news item on CNN:
"But if it becomes more profitable for companies to try and develop software for the Windows operating system, it makes it less likely that Linux will gain more traction. It will just solidify Microsoft's hold on the operating system business," Thompson said.
An interesting thought...

"It remains to be seen if the human brain is powerful enough to solve the problems it has created." -- Dr. Richard Wallace
Maybe not all is lost. (4.75 / 8) (#58)
by sharkbait on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 02:56:36 PM EST

I am going to repost here something I posted on slashdot yesterday. I think its relevant

First the usual disclaimer. I Am Not A Lawyer.

My first thought on reading the judgement was that Microsoft was getting away scott free, but did anybody read section VII. Further Elements.

Jurisdiction is retained by this Court over this action such that the Court may act sua sponte to issue further orders or directions, including but not limited to orders or directions relating to the construction or carrying out of this Final Judgment, the enforcement of compliance therewith, the modification thereof, and the punishment of any violation thereof. Jurisdiction is retained by this Court over this action and the parties thereto for the purpose of enabling the parties to this action to apply to this Court at any time for further orders and directions as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out or construe this Final Judgment, to modify or terminate any of its provisions, to enforce compliance, and to punish violations of its provisions.

Sua Sponte is defined on law.cornet.edu as

Latin for "of one's own accord; voluntarily." Used when the court addresses an issue without the litigants having presented the issue for consideration.

Lets assume that the judge is not stupid. She is well aware of Microsoft's legal history and how they will interpret the judgement. She also knows that the current DOJ has little interest in any further involvement in this case and is unlikley to to aggresivly enforce the judgement. By getting Microsoft to agree to this rather open ended authority over every aspect of the judgement she can force a particular interpretation against Microsoft's wishes, and she can do it unilatrially without the participation of the DOJ or anyone else.

For example consider Microsoft's much maligned EULA regarding the specification for CIFS that prevents open source developers from using it. Section VII would allow the judge to declare that SAMBA has a "reasonable business need" for access and "meets reasonable, objective standards" regarding viability, or she could simply declare that the CIFS license is discriminatory. Either case could be used to force Microsoft to change the license.

I am sure that Microsoft knows the pitfalls of this section, but what choice do they have. This is their agreement, they negotiated it with the DOJ and argued in court long and hard that this was the best solution. Suddenly deciding now that they don't like it anymore is not a politically viable option and it would opens them up to charges of obstructionism.

I cant read minds, I don't know if this is actually the judges plan, however it would be a crafty way of forcing both a stricter settlement and a faster settlement.

Or it could simply be a drowning man grasping at straws.

[Editorial, a little late]. (4.00 / 6) (#61)
by tiamat on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 03:33:25 PM EST

"Please explain why the expression "orally menstruating" exists? I mean... it doesn't make ANY sense. It's just stupid and offensive."

That is just a LITTLE of the rant you kicked off by a female friend of mine.

Dude, you're single handendly chasing women away from this site. I didn't see this go through the Q but I'm ashamed that no one else here seems have caught this offensive line.

why? (2.37 / 8) (#64)
by loteck on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 03:46:34 PM EST

why is it offensive? in my view, thats exactly what people do when they talk about things without actually knowing the details of what they are talking about. they often entirely miss the point of what is REALLY important.

they are orally menstruating. if this creates a vivid image of whats going on, then i think the term is successful.

I stand by this work as accurate, and i thank the editors for making some fixes for me, as i was unable to make it back to K5 before this story got posted.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]

Guess (5.00 / 2) (#72)
by greenrd on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:33:42 PM EST

why is it offensive?

My guess would be: because it's generally considered offensive for a man to refer to female genitalia in a derogatory manner - so, not a big leap to that.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Fair is fair... (2.66 / 3) (#78)
by kcbrown on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:48:59 PM EST

My guess would be: because it's generally considered offensive for a man to refer to female genitalia in a derogatory manner - so, not a big leap to that.
Yeah, just like it's generally considered offensive for a woman to refer to male genitalia in a derogatory manner (like saying that someone was thinking with his balls instead of his head, or that someone is a dick, etc. You get the idea) -- right?

If it's not offensive to refer to male genitalia in a derogatory manner, then it's not offensive to do the same for female genitalia. Otherwise you end up with the absurd situation where women are treated with kid gloves while men aren't simply to "compensate" women for the bad treatment they have received in the past. That's as acceptable as preferentially hiring minorities to "compensate" them for the discrimination they were previously subject to.

[ Parent ]

why?? (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by tiamat on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 11:27:38 PM EST

You're making a moral judgement about people. Fine, actually I agree that journalism has a pretty low standard today. That's not the problem. The problem is that you're making a metaphour of morally bad people matched to a completely normal female biological event. It's implying that women are evil.

I don't care if you think menstration is gross and can't deal with it yourself, but don't imply there's a moral implication.

[ Parent ]
Not a moral issue (2.00 / 2) (#80)
by Anymoose on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 07:26:03 AM EST

He wasn't making a moral statement about whether "women are evil" - it's a purely visual concept. Whether menstration is or isn't gross is irrelavent, the visual concept of the mouth secreting blood as the uterus does during menstration would be considered by most as gross. It's that mental picture that makes the opinion of the topic more extreme.

It comes down to effective use of language to communicate thoughts and feelings. If I say "I really don't feel well" vs "I feel like total shit", the intensity of the latter statement reflects a more intense state of being - "I really really really really don't feel well".

[begin slightly off-topic rant]

Language is a tool, it should never be considered offensive in and of itself. What may be offensive is the thought or feeling behind the language. Is the statement "All non-caucasions are less intellectually enabled and socially advanced as caucasions" show less racial bias than "All ni##ers are ignorant savages"? Both statements pretty much say the same thing, so it's not really the word ni##er that is truly offensive (although Political Correctness says it is), it's the thought and/or feeling behind the statements that is. This is the problem with Politically Correct speech, masking offensive thoughts, feelings, and behaviour behind pretty words does not negate the offensiveness. Rather than trying to filter out "bad words" we should be focusing on eliminating bad thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

[end slightly off-topic rant]

I AM, Therefore I THINK
[ Parent ]

Pretend all you want. . . (5.00 / 4) (#81)
by tiamat on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 11:24:52 AM EST

The women I know who read this site were offended by the words. And I'm pretty sure you're not going to be able to talk them out of that.

The fact is that there's a difference between using a word like "shit" which is unspecific, as far as gender, race, age, and other factors go, and using a word like menstration, which is specific to women. Whether or not it's good visual use of tha language, as far as making people understand just how much the author doesn't like the current state of technological journalism isn't the point.

The point is that is is offensive.


During the period of slavery and the period leading up to the civil rights revolution in the United States the word "ni##er" exploding in use and meaning infinitly beyond what any dictionary would give as its meaning. Yes, it became a tool. That word became a tool that was used to express hate at a most basic level, millions of times. When that word was said by a white person, it was inherinetly offensive. Perhaps in a few more years when the words have been sterilized by popular music the English language might get it back, but that's far from certain. I think the fact that we both spelt it today with ##, even when speaking of it in the context of an offensive word, goes to show just how bad we both know it truely is.

Women are, and have been, treated pretty badly in our society. They still haven't gotten any thing remotely resembeling equal treatment in the Western world, although we're begining to pretend they have. The fact of the matter is that expressions such as the one this author used do reinforce an image of women as negitive and gross.
And that's offensive.

[ Parent ]
Overreact all you want (5.00 / 1) (#87)
by Anymoose on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 08:59:47 PM EST

Seems to me you have an insecurity issue which makes you over sensitive to this language. You're still taking the comment as a slight against women when all it was used for was to depict a rather unpleasant image of overzealous hyperboli as bleeding from the mouth.

I would imagine that you're the type of person that finds images of female breasts offensive and degrading to women, even though the truth is there is no physical difference between male and female breasts other than size of mammory glands. It's a result of varying amounts of hormones that trigger the growth and development of the glands in female and not in males. However, supplementing the male hormone levels to that of a female causes his mammory glands to grow and develop as well. So there is no technical difference other that size between the two genders. That the more ignorant and sexually repressed males in the world fixate on the amount of cleavage shown in a women's dress, is not to say that female breasts are offensive and male's are not.

I agree that women have for far too long been subjected to all sorts of ill treatment, and still do in some locales today. However, I also think that being overly sensitive to certain words when used by men as a metaphore in an unrelated context is a bit too much. The context of a statement is more important then the specific words used. If you're ever watched CNN for several hours straight when something sensational has occurred, you can understand what he was referring to. Talking Heads pontificating endlessly on minute and mostly irrelevant details, taken out of context to make them appear more compelling, hour after hour after hour. It is this practice that he decided to describe with an image of people bleeding at the mouth over, since menstration is a normal and necessary part of female biology, but completely out of place and unnecessary when done by one's mouth. See the relation? Pontificating on pointless out of context details to unnecessary and out of place biological process. That is the context of his use of that word. It was in no way a statement against women or their biology.

As for my use of ##, it's not that I know it is "truly offensive". It's the fact that I know some people overreact to certain words in an unneeded manner, as you originally did here. I indicated it was off-topic, and didn't want to trigger a new rant about a different word from someone who couldn't see that I was using it as an example of language and not as a racial slur.


I AM, Therefore I THINK
[ Parent ]

Will do! (1.00 / 1) (#88)
by tiamat on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 09:57:48 PM EST

Placeholder comment. Reply will come later. Midterms taking precidence.

[ Parent ]
Or you know what? (none / 0) (#97)
by tiamat on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 06:58:44 PM EST

I made my points already, I don't want to kick of a flame war by carrying this on forever.

We disagree. I don't think that's going to change.

[ Parent ]
it creates an ambiguous image (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by ethereal on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 01:23:32 PM EST

For example, my original interpretation upon reading that was that the people had been hit in the mouth, hard, about once a month. Or maybe they had periodic dental surgery? Obviously not the metaphor you were aiming for (I think). While vivid language is good, vivid but confusing language is worse than nothing. If the metaphor isn't clear, it's about as helpful as a one-legged belt buckle en fuego.

I think I just made my point :)

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Over seers? (3.66 / 3) (#65)
by jefu on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 03:55:21 PM EST

Two comments (and as usual, IANAL). Firstly, having members of the corporate board of directors oversee things suddenly gives my brain the image of the following two (ficticious) stories : "George Bush today accepted a UN recommended compromise in the Iraq weapons inspection issue. He has accepted that a committee composed of members of the Iraqi cabinet would be charged with ensuring that Iraq did not develop any weapons of mass annoyance." -- or -- "The 873th district court today commended the Vatican for taking responsibility for handling cases of priests accused of child sexual abuse. The Vatican has appointed a committee to examine all such cases and determine appropriate responses. The committee will be formed of priests with particular and personal expertise in the field. Father Joe Jones has been appointed chair of the committee but cannot be reached for comment as the warden of the institution in which he is currently serving would not allow it." ---------- On the other side, the section 2 of the first part of the decree (as cited above) certainly looks to me like it allows an OEM to not cell a computer without an OS. They can sell one with a MS OS and something else and cannot restrict booting, but it sure looks like they could always require purchasers to buy (and pay for) the latest MS os as well as something else. "I'd like to buy one of your computers with Linux on it." "Certainly, that will be one of our sooper-dooper machines with MS Windows X-pensive and with Linux. That will be our usual charge for the MS stuff (which we can't tell you) as well as a $200 charge for having a Two OS computer."

a lawyer's view (5.00 / 2) (#68)
by janra on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 05:28:21 PM EST

No, not me. The Yale Law School's "LawMeme" site did a couple of articles on the decision: Microsoft Decision: Instant Analysis and One Coder's Opinion of the Microsoft Opinion.

In their opinion, the situation isn't pretty.


--
Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
perhaps... (2.33 / 3) (#70)
by jt on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:03:05 PM EST

next time you could use the gender-neutral term "verbal diarrhea."

Or not, it doesn't really matter to me.

Bleaugh (5.00 / 1) (#71)
by greenrd on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:13:03 PM EST

No, that's too disgusting as well. How about "clueless ramblings" or somesuch?


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Or use English! (none / 0) (#84)
by epepke on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 07:28:27 PM EST

Logorrhea.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Proposed vs. final decision (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by radghast on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 07:01:12 PM EST

An excellent summary of the proposed remedies vs. the remedies approved in the final decision is here. Lots of links to commentary, as well.

"It remains to be seen if the human brain is powerful enough to solve the problems it has created." -- Dr. Richard Wallace
I'll believe it when I see it (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by epepke on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 08:43:47 PM EST

Much of the analysis presupposes that Microsoft is actually going to do something in the settlement. Is there any reason to believe this? What sua sponte result is going to happen if they just ignore it? Another piece of paper with some stuff to ignore? On really impressive letterhead? Another half-decade lawyer-fest culminating in nothing at all?


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


open ended (none / 0) (#98)
by dirvish on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 08:33:35 PM EST

Looks a lot of that is open for interpretation. Microsoft will interpret the rulings in a way that will benefit/not hinder them. This will continue until there is a less corporation friendly administration in the White House. At that time government might stop ignoring the problem.

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
A Look at the "Final Decree" | 107 comments (95 topical, 12 editorial, 1 hidden)
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