Microsoft Antitrust Trial Decision: Who Cares.

by Steve Mallett

Was yesterday's decision a disappointment to you? It shouldn't be. Legal decisions won't save you from yourself.


Let me start by saying that I'd have liked Microsoft to get a little kick in the derrier just for all the wasted time I've spent having to deal with their OS, and the comedy of errors that it is. But, that is another article.


This commentary is about power & whether this legal decision was going to save you from the Goliath that is the Microsoft jauggernaught. It never was.


Microsoft doesn't force you to buy anything as much as you'd like to believe they do. Yeah, yeah, Word(tm) docs, yeah, yeah, upgrades. You choose to buy this stuff. You alone. Microsoft is not at the box store holding your wallet and leading you to the counter. You do this all by yourself.


A couple years ago I stopped my self delusion when I decided to learn Linux. Yes, it was hard back then. But, since when does convenience have to do with freedom of choice? I changed what I did because I didn't like what I was choosing to subject myself to.


I stopped using Word, I stopped using Windows, I stopped playing games (at the time, I actually just lost interest) because if I chose to continue with those activities I was going to subject myself to that pain, but it was at my own doing. So, I stopped.


This was harder to do then than it is now. There are plenty of options for you. You must simply choose them. And that choice doesn't come with the steep learning curve it used to.


I'm speaking with reference to desktop computing next since this is the environment most folks are in: The new Apple OS, OS X, is the perfect and easy way out for you folks. It has all the functionality in products that 'it' has, except OS X works well. If you really want to go all the way, take up Linux. There is still a bit of a learning curve, and Linux Distributions are still, to my chagrin, shipped with cruddy applications that have no business in front of a buying customer (Redhat and Mandrake), but there are -a lot- of working desktop apps there for you.


There is no lack of options anymore. The problem is now choice. There are so many. But the biggest choice for you is to simply make the ultimate. It's easier than you think and these alternatives are by no means a charity cause. They have developed into extremely capable and incredibly serious contenders in the desktop environment.


Choose not to give your power to Microsoft. The alternatives are strong and you'll be pleased.


3 Comments

nzheretic
2002-11-02 17:32:15
The problem is that it's an all or nothing choice
If your deploying Linux or even MacOSX desktops or SAMBA servers, because of the *current* dominant position of Microsoft in the marketplace, it is likely that for the foreseeable future those systems will *have* to interoperate, at least on a protocol level, with existing Microsoft desktops. The terms and conditions under which Microsoft is licensing API and Protocols is discriminatory against the GPL and Opens Source development. See


http://www.microsoft.com/legal/settlementprogram/


Since the Open Source collaborative development model has proven itself fully capable of output-ing and providing consumers with high quality software with better reliability, performance, scalability, security at a lower total cost of ownership... ( see David A. Wheeler's "Why Open Source Software/Free Software (OSS/FS)? Look at the Numbers!" http://www.dwheeler.com/oss_fs_why.html ) ... and the Open Source development model requires public access to the source code under an open license to encorage developer participation... ( see "The Open Source Definition" http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php ) ... does not the terms and conditions in Microsoft Communications Protocol Program ( see http://www.microsoft.com/legal/protocols/faq.asp ), including the NDA requirements, represent a clear case of a proven monopoly enacting an agreement to restrict output?.


Yes, for now you can, I suggest to everyone that you do ASAP, deploy open source applications on windows to replace Microsoft's vulnerable and expensive applications. Upgrade to Mozilla to replace the vulnerable Microsoft IE ...


http://www.pivx.com/larholm/unpatched/


... and replace your expensive Office97/2000 enviroment with StarOffice or OpenOffice, BUT


In the long term, since Microsoft has signaled it's distaste for both Open source and commons preserving free licensed code, you can no longer consider the Microsoft OSs as viable targets if you intend to use open sourced technology in your enterprise.


In the short term, it's a real problem for those considering or deploying open source infrastructure. In the long term, if Microsoft continues with it's current attitude, then its going to be a major problem for Microsoft itself. Dispite Microsoft's lies, worldwide many governments, the military and businesses are all catching on to the inherent benefits of open source and free software licensing. Linux is now a equally viable desktop platform, easily "good enough" to replace XP or Win2k as the next upgrade choice. If Microsoft chooses to remain incompatible with what is rapidly becoming the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) of open source, then Microsoft will eventually be dumped.


The W3C's patent policy board has recognized the requirements to encorage interoperation and open development and therefore have have voted to recommend a royalty-free patent policy for all their standards and protocols. ( see http://slashdot.org/articles/02/10/07/1159206.shtml ). In fact Fully documented, NDA-free and royalty-free interfaces and protocols are the only way Give Software Users a Sincere Choice! ( see http://www.sincerechoice.org/ ).


Lastly, how can Microsoft grant access to API documentation on a royalty-free basis, yet require a per-seat royalty for protocols required for interoperation, and still claim that it is not enacting an agreement to restrict output?

mentata
2002-11-05 09:01:51
i care
Although I wasn't expecting a major reversal, I care about the shortcomings of this decision. I gave Judge KC my opinion (see http://www.mentata.com/news/microsoft/letter_to_doj.htm ), and she has ignored it. My guess is her decision was influenced, in part, because most people did stop caring. I believe this decision reflects the deeper failures of our system of government, which in turn reflects on our general public. As George Carlin once said:


"If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant politicians."


I'll bet the majority of open source developers don't even vote today. Admittedly, I've been the same way in my youth, but this sort of injustice should be a signal for change. Shame on you for not caring.


Jon Roberts
jon@mentata.com

anonymous2
2003-11-16 23:29:57
Microsoft class action settlement -- California
A judge will decide in February 2004 whether to approve a proposed class action settlement of an antitrust case pending against Microsoft in California.


The proposed settlement would pay $40,000 cash to the class reps and up to $275 million to the attorneys, but class members would get vouchers redeemable against future purchases of various products.


I have filed a set of objections which you can review and/or join in. For information about the objections and/or on how to file a claim, please go to http://caobjection.home.att.net.


Thanks.