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Microsoft plans "doomsday defense".
March 4, 2002 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Microsoft plans "doomsday defense". Microsoft Corp. plans to argue in court hearings next week that if antitrust sanctions sought by state prosecutors are granted, the company would be forced to pull its latest Windows computer operating systems off the market and be unable to develop new systems.
posted by aaronshaf (56 comments total)

 
Does that mean we get the source code?!
posted by aaronshaf at 12:44 PM on March 4, 2002


in other news:

six year-old Jared, of Milwaukee, WI, threatened his friends Jon and Teddy that he would "take my ball and go home." Jon and Teddy relented to Jared's demands, which consisted of putting the goal line at the front bush rather than the pole 7 feet behind.
posted by moz at 12:47 PM on March 4, 2002


LOL! That is too funny!
posted by Lanternjmk at 12:53 PM on March 4, 2002


Would anyone be sad to see windows go (not that it will) am just interested to see how many here actually enjoy their os experience in the windows world.

I feel they should go away and allow others to develop something brand spanking new, wouldn't that be fun.

That was funny moz.
posted by bittennails at 12:58 PM on March 4, 2002


I'm torn between "Please don't throw me into that brair patch" and "Hail Dorthoy! The Wicked Witch is dead!"
posted by eriko at 12:58 PM on March 4, 2002


But is Jared wrong? Jared has obviously got his ball due to the actions of people with some capital. Jared could play with the ball all alone, instead he offers to share it with Teddy and Jon, but he has a few rules. If Teddy and Jon don't want to play by Jared's rules, shouldn't Teddy and Jon find another ball?
posted by riffola at 12:59 PM on March 4, 2002


Walmart, $3.
posted by aaronshaf at 1:09 PM on March 4, 2002


Walmart, $3.
posted by aaronshaf at 1:10 PM on March 4, 2002


Walmart, $3.
posted by aaronshaf at 1:10 PM on March 4, 2002


Jared should play with his ball elsewhere, making himself happy and showing Teddy and Jon the foolishness of their ways.
posted by dagny at 1:13 PM on March 4, 2002


I just don't like having to buy PumpXP to be sure I get the most from my ball, having just bought it at the same place (where nobody seemed to know I'd need a pump). And, I hear that if I install a goal and two sidelines I may have to call someone about still being allowed to play.
posted by dwivian at 1:15 PM on March 4, 2002


sounds like the Chewbacca defense. You know, I don't think that judge will let you off of a criminal charge because you will loose you job if you go to jail. That is the whole point of the penal system -- you violate the rules, you loose your rights and your membership to the society. And we *don't* care what negative things happen as a result of the punishment.

If Corporations are not held to the same standards of law (read: cannot be prosecuted) we're all through here in the US.
posted by n9 at 1:21 PM on March 4, 2002


n9, that was about the weakest legal type argument, I've ever heard. I would like to think that "we" do care about the stockholders who aren't guilty of any crime, that "we" do care about the businesses that will have to rethink entire IT stategies, and be crippled therby. I would really like to think that "we" care that specific states aren't manipulating law just to benifit the fortunes of Microsoft's competators, like AOL (a company far more insidious and awful than MS ever could be). Microsoft was prosecuted, and the point of the judgement against them is compliance with the law, not revenge, 'kay?

am just interested to see how many here actually enjoy their os experience in the windows world.

Overall, my experience in the Microsoft/Window's world has been favorable, far better than my frustrations with Linux, my absolute fury at the crap that WordPerfect has become, and my total disdain for the whining and flailing of Netscape, as software and pimped out company in the stable of AOHELL.
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:40 PM on March 4, 2002


jared ought to have his ball taken from him and spend the next 25 years in detention. you see, under random and unpredictable circumstances, the ball simply fails to bounce. the ball requires proprietary air which can only be gotten from jared, and jared insists we keep buying him new balls that are no better than the old. fuck jared!
posted by quonsar at 1:49 PM on March 4, 2002


So Teddy and John bring out there own balls, except that Teddy's is such that you can't play anything with it until John designs a game (for no charge to Teddy, of course) and John's ball is built such that neither of them can figure out what to do with it. Sad Teddy, sad John.

(Can we get over this obviously useless analogy now, please?)
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:53 PM on March 4, 2002


I thought this was a joke until I read the article.

Microsoft seems to be saying that any attempt to extract IE from Windows will break it so badly as to make the product unsalable; ergo they would have to leave the market altogether. Since this may in fact be so for both Win2K and WinXP, and Microsoft clearly *intended* for this to be the case, the real question is: will Microsoft be forced to fix Windows so that it doesn't *require* IE any more?
posted by mrmanley at 2:13 PM on March 4, 2002


Wulfgar! - Microsoft was prosecuted, and the point of the judgement against them is compliance with the law, not revenge, 'kay?

Microsoft wasn't just prosecuted, they were found guilty. Microsoft's guilt is an established fact. The sentence is not directly about enforcing compliance with the law, as enforcing compliance is the role of the executive (DOJ).

The sentence is, among other things, about punishment. Punishment is not mere revenge; it exists to discourage future illegal activities.

If a speeder drops to the speed limit after seeing a cop, the cop is still in the right to issue a ticket, and the courts are still in the right to collect the fine, despite the fact that the speeder may not be speeding at this moment.
posted by NortonDC at 2:16 PM on March 4, 2002


The absurdity of Microsoft's defense is directly correlated to the absurdity of the states' request.
posted by daveadams at 2:26 PM on March 4, 2002


NortonDC, nothing I've commented disagrees with you. A little clarification, though. The judgement can be punitive, but it can be overturned if that punishment is materially detrimental to the future function of the company and thereby punitive to stockholders, who, by corporate law, must be held harmless by the judgement. As I've said, this isn't and can't be, about revenge.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:27 PM on March 4, 2002


The possibility of a decline in the price of the guilty company's stock is not a valid limit on the available punishments.
posted by NortonDC at 3:06 PM on March 4, 2002


Wulfgar!: I have no sympathy for any stockholders who did not do enough research to find out that the company may have based their complete revenue model on blatantly illegal abuse of their monopoly position. If you want to invest in a stock like that, you take the risk that (gasp) the courts might eventually realize how illegal it is. The stockholders aren't innocent, period. It's not like Enron, where the stockholders were lied to. MS does everything in plain sight- they got exactly what they paid for.
posted by louie at 3:29 PM on March 4, 2002


n9:

The whole point of anti-trust is to try to protect stockholders, etc, while at the same time freeing up the market.
posted by delmoi at 3:30 PM on March 4, 2002


louie, this isn't about what you have sympathy for. This is about the law. Please try to keep up.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:36 PM on March 4, 2002


The point of anti-trust is protect consumers not stockholders.
posted by onegoodmove at 3:40 PM on March 4, 2002


The point of anti-trust is protect consumers not stockholders.

Incorrect. Its about both, and that is the point of corporate law.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:43 PM on March 4, 2002


The point of anti-trust is protect consumers not stockholders.

Incorrect. Its about both, and that is the point of corporate law.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:43 PM on March 4, 2002


mrmanley raises a good point. suppose i've been found guilty of a criminal or civil act and, while i'm waiting to hear what my fine will be, i go out and liquidate all my assets and spend all the money. Can I then go to the judge and say "but your honor, I don't have the money to pay the fine"? Microsoft has spent the last 5 years making damn sure that IE was so central to the OS that it couldn't be removed. They did that at least in part so that if this moment came, they could cry foul.

Whether or not they were within their legal rights to do so, I can't say. But, all things being equal, a judge's order to remove the browser from the OS, in an effort to level the playing field, seems reasonable to me.

If Microsoft's business plan, given the ample warning they had about this potential judgement, put the company's health in jeopardy, that's Microsoft's fault--not the DoJ's--and they should have to answer to the stockholders.
posted by jpoulos at 4:11 PM on March 4, 2002


(Even better: If I argued "but your honor, if you fine me my children will starve")
posted by jpoulos at 4:13 PM on March 4, 2002


In addition to consumers rights, hat rights do the stockholders of competitors hurt by Microsoft's illegal actions have. If the remedies damage microsoft's stockholders (lower profits) isn't that just compensation for the illegal higher profits they realized through those same illegal actions. Can it be true that the anti-trust laws would protect the stockholders illicit gains. I would certainly hope not.
posted by onegoodmove at 4:17 PM on March 4, 2002


Wulfgar!, please provide sources -- from my 30 minute tour of the roots of antitrust law online I see very little to establish your claim that shareholder's rights have a major influence on antitrust law. I see a lot of documentation from the Kato institute about how we should get rid of such laws for just the reasons you bring up, however.
posted by n9 at 5:00 PM on March 4, 2002


Its heartening to see the utter lack of developers in this forum.

Its obvious that not many people have actually programmed Windows software. Like it or not, Microsoft has made it much easier for developers to develop complex internet based solutions. I have used wininet.dll, crypt32.dll, wsock32.dll, shodocvw.dll, url.dll, urlmon.dll and numerous others extensively.

Internet Explorer the browser is such a small part of what Microsoft has actually done. They released components that everyone can use, and they release excellent documentation for those components. An example, for a website, I use extensive cryptography (MD 5 hashing) to mask passwords, session IDs, etc. I could code the MD 5 algorithm, buy a library, or use the functions Microsoft exposes.

The problem is not just that Windows will stop working if the components of Internet Explorer are removed, it's that all the other programs that run on Windows will also stop working, since they are using the functionality as well.

I have no problem with Microsoft integrating new functionality into their OS, it just means I can concentrate on the functionality of my programs. I mean look how much functionality is integrated into each Linux kernel release. Why is adding native support for a journaling file system to an OS different that adding Internet support to an OS?

Oh wait, it's M$ it must be evil, whatever. Microsoft courts developers, and that's why it wins in my book.
posted by patrickje at 5:24 PM on March 4, 2002


wulfgar!: thanks for your usual level of insight and brilliance. And confusion. Your words, not mine: "I would like to think that 'we' do care about the stockholders who aren't guilty of any crime..." Emphasis mine, but choice of words yours. Not sure what the difference between your 'caring' and my 'sympathy' is, but either way the bottom line is that they participated and helped to fund a criminally intentioned and active enterprise. If the law protects them, the law is flawed. Of course, I've seen absolutely nothing anywhere to suggest your interpretation of the law is even vaguely correct, nor have you offered any such evidence.
posted by louie at 5:24 PM on March 4, 2002


I think Microsoft should lay off whatever drugs they're taking and work on Hotmail. Is anyone else finding that they can't connect or send email to people with Hotmail addresses right now? My mass emails in MS Outlook won't even send if there's a Hotmail address included.
And we all know this isn't the first time.
Heck, they have a whole Google section for them called "Security Holes".
Sorry for the rant.
posted by jacobw at 5:39 PM on March 4, 2002


wulfgar!: thanks for your usual level of insight and brilliance.

Thanks for the ad hominem attack thinly disguised (and I do mean all facets of said) as wit, but you fail to deal with the law. If you wish stockholders held acountable for the actions of a corporation than you're discounting hundreds of years of US law. If you don't like it, as you've said you don't, than tough. You haven't thought it through have you? How would you like to be personally sued because a company that funds your retirement plan is convicted of consumer fraud? That's the point of corporate law. If you don't agree, fine and too bad for you. If you want proof then LOOK IT UP. You are expecting me to prove to you what the law says, when you're just hanging yourself out in a discussion group spewing opinion based on nothing but what you think oughta'. Get Real. If you can't research the issues, then don't enter the argument, and for cripes sake, don't ask me to prove the obvious to you. Read the article linked. Do you think Microsoft's lawyers are arguing from ignorance here? If you do, you really are jaded and foolish. Read the legal issues, then respond from the position of power you think you have, okay?

(p.s. I'm probably going offline for the night, but please, challenge me again about this; just be sure to check tomorrow morning when I actually go through the work of finding the laws that you are too lazy to bother with).
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:46 PM on March 4, 2002


But, all things being equal, a judge's order to remove the browser from the OS, in an effort to level the playing field, seems reasonable to me.

It seems reasonable to me as well. Can it be made retroactive, as some states would have it? I'm thinking no. That would be virtual economic disaster ... but obviously that would make some people happy. *sheesh*
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:53 PM on March 4, 2002


Yes, it would make lots of people happy. Steve Case. Scott McNeely. Larry Ellison.
posted by benjh at 6:22 PM on March 4, 2002


Wulfgar!, you're the one arguing in the affirmative here, claiming the law does prevent anti-trust penalties that decrease the stock value of the guilty corporation. The burden of proof lies with you.
posted by NortonDC at 7:10 PM on March 4, 2002


Does this qualify Microsoft as a fucknozzle. Is fucknozzle a noun?
I've done some checking and can't find anything in anti-trust law that gives protection to stockholders, perhaps there is some other law that may apply perhaps that is what Wulfgar is trying to say. I look forward to his response.
posted by onegoodmove at 7:23 PM on March 4, 2002


And if the law does prevent anti-trust penalties that wind up decreasing the stock value of a guilty corporation, well, how exactly do you go about punishing them? Glares? Stern lectures?

Suing the shareholders would be silly, but rendering their investments immune to the actions of their chosen corporation (it's the corporation's fault for breaking the law, not the government's for pursuing it) is dumb whether it's actually the law or not. When you invest, you risk the money you invest. No more, no less.
posted by furiousthought at 7:30 PM on March 4, 2002


When you invest, you risk the money you invest.

Exactly. And if you invest in a company that's facing anti-trust suits, how can you expect sympathy?
posted by jpoulos at 7:38 PM on March 4, 2002


DOW Chemical's silicone tit lawsuit and the Reynold's Tobacco lawsuit both beat hell out of the stocks. Don't recall there being any concern for consumer protection wrt either company.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:43 PM on March 4, 2002


investor protection, five fresh fish.
posted by NortonDC at 7:48 PM on March 4, 2002


in other news:

six year-old Wolfgar!, while making a spurious argument filled with dubious claims, threatened his friends Louie and n9 that he would "take my ball and go home." Louie and n9 relented to Wolfgar!'s demands, which consisted of putting the evidence goal line at the front bush of obstinance rather than the pole of hyperlinked fact 7 feet behind.
posted by limitedpie at 7:58 PM on March 4, 2002


Non-Settling States Tweak Microsoft Sanctions Plan a related link
posted by onegoodmove at 8:57 PM on March 4, 2002


patrickje: They can leave the DLL's in. They just have to take out the application. I don't have any problem with MS adding API's as long as they're documented properly (i.e. external developers have access to the same doc's as internal MS developers). If they want to stick 99% of IE into DLL's, fine, just make sure that all developers can use the DLL's.
posted by electro at 9:16 PM on March 4, 2002


Norton: MEA CULPA!! I meant investor protection. D-oH!

MeFi should implement a posting preview feature, so one could check for mistakes like that before making a fool of oneself... :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:39 PM on March 4, 2002


The problem isn't their developer tools (although I would argue that linux, MacOSX and Java all provide such facilities for free or $129, depending) or their browser, which is good code. It is that they broke the law, were told that they were breaking the law, lied about it and then broke the law even more. And speaking of investor protection, what about all the people who took a bath on Netscape because of MS... or the thousand or so employees that lost their jobs? And while we are at it how about the time they used faked evidence in court? Or how their claims of IE's integration into the OS are certainly ill-founded and beyond that rather foolish. They are the _only_ os that must use a web browser as a filesystem navigation tool and it does not work any better than using a filesystem navigator like everyone else does.

They broke the law and they are trying to do an OJ, dazzling the court with BS about how many people will be hurt if they are punished. I don't think that holding their customers hostage is a very good way to get into anyone's good books, however there seem to be many people that want MS left alone, that want this behavior to continue, not realizing that if MS can get away with this they are scott free to do whatever it takes to stay on top. Face is, MS could make almost as much money by playing by the rules -- they are f*cking with the government (and therefore us) to maximize profit. Well, sorry for feeling this way but the US Govt is in charge, MS is not, not even close.
posted by n9 at 10:15 PM on March 4, 2002


Hearing a new integration lie every two months almost makes this drawn-out mess worthwhile.
Why is adding native support for a journaling file system to an OS different that adding Internet support to an OS?
Because when you're a monopoly you have certain abilities that you are not ever allowed to use.
You're not allowed to use the overwhelming reliance on your product (water/power/software) to threaten customers. This latest plan is the same company line. Now they're threatening tHe wOrLd with denial of a product that has 90% of the desktop market. It's an empty threat, they'll always sell their wares. Only those bamboozled by the mere mention of programming would believe it. I guess that's what they're hoping.
posted by holloway at 11:02 PM on March 4, 2002


Its amazing how easily some persons here ignore what has been said in favor of what they wish to hear. My initial reaction to n9 was concerning the complete lack of understanding that a corporation is not a person or being he can torture out of some kind of misplaced outrage, it is a legal construct that exists to protect and promote the interests of its owners, the shareholders. Suprisingly enough, (or purhaps not), the anti-Microsoft bloodlust runs so deep here that several wish to claim that I said antitrust laws should protect Microsoft from punitive judgement because these judgements would decrease stock value. I defy anyone to show where I claim such a thing. What I said, was that stockholders cannot be held liable for the criminal actions of a corporation, including anti-trust. Therefore, an antitrust settlement cannot acrue legal liability to the investors beyond the value of their stock. If Kollar-Kotelly hands down a ruling that is "materially detrimental" to Microsoft's continuing operation, (which is exactly what I said before many started reading your own rhetoric), then that ruling can be, (and most likely will be) over-turned.

Further more, part of the point of the Tunney Act is that a settlement between the federal government and a corporation be balanced for the good of the consumer, not promoting competitors unduly, nor hamstringing the defendant for actions taken legally, along with those deemed anti-competitive. These things aren't hard to find if you're actually looking at issues instead of your own biases, eh louie?

By the way, since the period for public comment is over, as also provided by the Tunney Act, I have to ask those spewing meaningless vitriol here, how many of you actually commented? (Hint: I did, and it wasn't completely favorable to the propossed settlement. At the same time, I don't believe that Orrin Hatch has my best interests at heart. Don't know what he has to do with this? Maybe you'd better look that up as well).

Finally, limitedpie; yes, you are.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:00 AM on March 5, 2002


Okay: if a corporation suffers "materially detrimental" effects as a result of an antitrust judgement, how are its investors hurt beyond the value of their stock? And how is a punitive judgement against a corporation punitive if it doesn't have material effects? If there's a misunderstanding here this is the crux of it.
posted by furiousthought at 9:25 AM on March 5, 2002


That would be virtual economic disaster

So the fact that they're a monopoly is now a defense in an antitrust suit?
posted by joaquim at 10:28 AM on March 5, 2002


If there's a misunderstanding here this is the crux of it.

*sigh* Only because your not reading what I said. Let me put it another way: If the judgement prohibits MS from staying in operation as a company, the ruling will be overturned. The actions of the governement may hurt the stock of MS, but the government cannot take action which forces the stocks value or regulate its worth, by putting MS out of business. Is that clear enough?

So the fact that they're a monopoly is now a defense in an antitrust suit?

No, its not a defense, its an issue to conscider for the settlement judgement Being a Monopoly is not a crime. Using unfair business practices to get there is. That part has been decided. Causing harm to the economy as part of the settlement is an avoidable option and needs to be weighed before the judgement is handed down
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:51 AM on March 5, 2002


Wulf: "several wish to claim that I said antitrust laws should protect Microsoft from punitive judgement because these judgements would decrease stock value. I defy anyone to show where I claim such a thing."

(/me scrolls up a page or two..)

Wulf: "The whole point of anti-trust is to try to protect stockholders"

(then down a page or two)

Wulf: "Its amazing how easily some persons here ignore what has been said in favor of what they wish to hear."

(/me scrathes his head)

Wulf: "[n9's] lack of understanding that a corporation is not a person or being he can torture out of some kind of misplaced outrage"

I am *outraged* at GE and about a hundred other corporations because they have led to the wrongful deaths of innocents which I doubt MS has done. This is why I support Nader's proposal for a corporate death penalty and consider myself a fairly well informed citizen (IANAL) with regard to the legal status of corporations in the US. I am not outraged at Microsoft, I simply think that it is a damn shame to see a company commit illegal acts and bully/buy their way out. I don't see any indication of bloodlust in my post.



"The definition of a strawman argument is to posit an obviously false statement and equate it with the other's statement with the intent that when the other person knocks down the strawman s/he'll knock down his/her own argument too."
posted by n9 at 11:49 AM on March 5, 2002


Wulf: "The whole point of anti-trust is to try to protect stockholders"

Check your facts, n9. delmoi said that, not me.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:46 PM on March 5, 2002


wulf -- You are , of course, right! I apologize. (blush!)
posted by n9 at 12:48 PM on March 5, 2002


The possibility of a decline in the price of the guilty company's stock is not a valid limit on the available punishments.

Agreed! Why should corporations get different treatment than citizens? If a husband is dealing cocaine out of his house, his house is seized (despite what the Constitution says about such things). No consideration is given to the other people who may have lived in that house and may have done nothing wrong.

It was bad enough that the current administration made decisions based on the theoretical economic impact of a M$ split up when they essentailly gave the monopoly a slap on the wrist.
posted by terrapin at 12:29 PM on March 6, 2002


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