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DoJ Finds Microsoft Antitrust Compliance 'On Track' 110

Posted by Zonk
from the they're-going-to-frame-that dept.
eldavojohn writes "Despite demand for more oversight from the states, the Department of Justice has found that Microsoft's antitrust compliance plan is right on track. These specific investigations centered around Vista's compliance with Google's concerns surrounding search tools for the desktop. From the article: 'Preliminary testing shows the new version, which will let Vista users set a competing search program as their default and see it in the Windows Start menu, works as expected. The changes will be available in Service Pack 1, a package of upgrades and fixes expected in the first quarter of 2008, the department said. The department also said in its report that it is looking into differences between original technical documentation and rewritten versions from Microsoft, and that it is testing fixes Microsoft made to some software.'"
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DoJ Finds Microsoft Antitrust Compliance 'On Track'

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  • Of course it does... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 01, 2007 @07:19AM (#20432603)
    Has anybody expected something different?

    Quote from http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/artic les/2007/06/10/microsoft_finds_defender_in_us_just ice_department/ [boston.com]

    The official, Assistant Attorney General Thomas O. Barnett, had until 2004 been a top antitrust partner at Covington & Burlington, the law firm that has represented Microsoft in several antitrust disputes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kripkenstein (913150)

      Has anybody expected something different?

      Sadly, no. And it isn't hard to see why this is so: What does the US have left, in the area of actual productive industry? Sure, there are successful investment firms, etc., but most actual manufacturing has long been lost to other nations. There are basically two fields that are actually producing goods, Big Content (symbolized by the RIAA/MPAA) and software, and by software I mean basically Microsoft.

      The US government isn't just corrupt and pandering to these

      • by Anonymous Coward
        What does the US have left, in the area of actual productive industry? [...] There are basically two fields [in the United States] that are actually producing goods

        Where did you get this myth from? Sounds like one of those Microsoft advocacy websites paid for by Microsoft.
        • I would be (literally!) very happy to be proven wrong. Do you have an example of another productive, exporting industry in the US?
          • Agriculture (Score:4, Informative)

            by westlake (615356) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @09:46AM (#20433245)
            I would be (literally!) very happy to be proven wrong. Do you have an example of another productive, exporting industry in the US?

            Agriculture.

            WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2007 - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced a record $79 billion forecast in FY 2007 agricultural exports. For fiscal year 2008, USDA forecasts exports to reach $83.5 billion with growth and new sales across all major agricultural product groups. U.S. Agricultural Exports Expected To Reach Record Levels [usda.gov]

            • Thanks, I was not aware that US agriculture was doing so well.
              • by Gr8Apes (679165)
                You were way uninformed then. The US is one of the primary food producers in the world. Per capita, no one comes close.
            • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward
              Heh, impressive..
              Dutch export of agriculture in 2006 was 50 billion euros. Import was close to 31 billion euros. So even if that number of yours is the difference (19 billion euros here) then you should still consider that the Netherlands are a tiny country compared to the USA.

              • by westlake (615356)
                you should still consider that the Netherlands are a tiny country compared to the USA.

                US agriculture is also supporting a domestic population of 300 million.

                • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

                  by Anonymous Coward
                  Not as if that really matters considering what the topic under discussion was.
                  The Netherlands are one of the most densily populated countries in the world. Still we manage to feed our small amount of 16 million people with the area left (and import) and have good export (probably because the agricultural goods we're exporting are of high value, compared to what we import; about EUR 7 billion is for flower export).

                  Anyway, the deficiency issue stated in another reply to the parent illustrates this parent's po
            • Re:Agriculture (Score:5, Interesting)

              by kimvette (919543) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:13AM (#20433413) Homepage Journal
              $79 billion annually? Is that a WHOLE $79 billion? Well, thank God, then. I guess we have nothing to worry about then.

              Wait a second, that's wrong! Our trade deficit is roughly $60 billion per month. In the face of that, $79 billion is a drop in the bucket. We're hemorrhaging money, jobs, and manufacturing capacity and if we don't end it and encourage domestic manufacturing, we'll be totally fucked soon, ESPECIALLY if WWIII breaks out (that's where we're heading with our current foreign policies) and need to manufacture artillery and vehicles on short order.

              Check this out for monthly trade deficit tallies: http://www.americaneconomicalert.org/ticker_home.a sp [americanec...calert.org]

              For a US trade deficit graph underscoring the seriousness of the matter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_surplus#United_ States_trade_deficit [wikipedia.org]
              • Like Russia and China, the United States has extensive natural resources (energy included), it is just cheaper for us to import them from other countries. Now, I'm not advocating WWIII, or saying we [Americans] have nothing to worry about if WWIII breaks out, BUT if a major war does occur, I would expect the United States to convert to a controlled economy, ala WWII, and you'd see domestic production skyrocket in relatively short order.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by kimvette (919543)

                  BUT if a major war does occur, I would expect the United States to convert to a controlled economy, ala WWII, and you'd see domestic production skyrocket in relatively short order.

                  During WWII it was possible only because the US was capable of being entirely self-sufficient. Modern stealth technology require exotic minerals which can only be mined in two places in the world; one in a "protected" area in one of the US's deserts (it's a wildlife preservation and cannot be mined) and in china. Unfortunately on

            • by mOdQuArK! (87332)
              Is there a stat on how well agriculture would be doing without any government subsidies?
              • by Columcille (88542) *
                I think you are undermining your own point... The subsidies exist because the market is flooded. Agriculture in the US is doing TOO well. We're producing so much food, many farmers are being paid NOT to grow crops. The excess of food means cheaper prices, which means farmers have to sell for really cheap just to be competitive. So cheap that they themselves are making next to nothing and require subsidies in order to pay the bills. Agriculture in America is doing quite well as far as volume of produce, and
          • by jc42 (318812)
            Do you have an example of another productive, exporting industry in the US?

            Historically, education has been one of the US's major "export industries".

            There is a certain amount of irony here, since the US population as a whole has a rather deep antipathy towards education and educated people. It's easy to see this in American politics, where a college degree is a handicap that politicians tend to downplay. The recent fun over the video clip of a Miss Teen USA contestant explaining why Americans can't find th [youtube.com]
          • by nameer (706715)
            Pharmaceuticals, food, computers, fabricated metals, ... Manufactured goods accounted for nearly $1T in 2006 [nam.org]. More than double services. I agree that US manufacturing is in bad shape, but it's not non-existent.
      • I know it's easy to view the government as corrupt and not stupid. But in my opinion it explains a lot more if you realize that the 'government', that is the bureaucrats, is made up of the people that are all around us. Which leads me to believe that the government is not nearly as corrupt as it is stupid.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dak RIT (556128)
        The US economy long ago has transitioned from a primarily manufacturing-based economy to a (higher paying) service-based one. In fact, Microsoft itself would be counted more in the service-based section than in the area of manufacturing. There's nothing particularly wrong with this in general, except that the transition was somewhat mismanaged and has occurred faster than we have been able to adequately re-train our labor, which has left us in the ironic situation of being dependent on both illegal immigr
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anne Thwacks (531696)
          "A service based economy" is analagous to paying yourself to wash your own dishes as a method of earning the rent!

          It fails top take into account that if you need to pay others for something, you need to earn the money from them and not earn it from yourself. Taking money from your left pocket and putting it in the right pocet does not make you richer.

          And you won't get rich by getting the commission on lending your money to people who are not economically viable, but have falsified the paperwork.

          • "A service based economy" is analagous to paying yourself to wash your own dishes as a method of earning the rent!

            You can also wash your neighbour's dishes, and ask him money for that.
            That's also what a service-based economy is about: providing services not only for your own people, but also for your neighbours.
      • by Torvaun (1040898)

        What does the US have left, in the area of actual productive industry? Sure, there are successful investment firms, etc., but most actual manufacturing has long been lost to other nations. There are basically two fields that are actually producing goods, Big Content (symbolized by the RIAA/MPAA) and software, and by software I mean basically Microsoft.
        You forgot high speed pizza delivery.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FridayBob (619244)

      Has anybody expected something different?

      Of course not: Bush and his buddies let M$ off the hook in 2001 and are still big friends with them. Was that supposed to have changed? No. If anything substantial is going to be done about the M$ monopoly, it'll have to wait until after the next administration takes over in 2009. The only danger is if M$ succeeds in once again stalling the judicial process long enough to last until the next Republican administration. But, since they've already been convicted of mo

  • Which DOJ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alien Being (18488)
    The one that let MS off the hook with a slap on the wrist? The one whose head just stepped down in disgrace? Yeah, I believe their findings. I also believe I'm married to Morgan Fairchild.

    The Bush administration and Microsoft Corporation are both rotten.
  • by speaker of the truth (1112181) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @07:21AM (#20432617)
    So Microsoft does a whole bunch of things that are "non-compliant" and then fixes the ones its called on in a Service Pack over 12 months after the "non-compliant" code is sold? Wow, that's simply amazing justice there.
  • Antitrust (Score:4, Interesting)

    by laederkeps (976361) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @07:22AM (#20432623) Homepage
    Is it just me, or are we treating Microsoft differently from all the other mega corporations?

    I never quite understood the rationale behind, for example, trying to force Windows Media Player out of the Windows XP bundle. Really, Microsoft sells an OS and its customers want a somewhat functional system at that. These days, a PC isn't really complete until it can play some digital media and thus MS includes a media player with its OS.
    I don't use windows unless I really have to. I don't use Windows media player unless I happen to find myself on a deserted island in the body of an evil zombie pirate with two matching pink socks.
    I also don't encourage others to use Windows Media Player or Internet Explorer or any of the other crud that MS ships with their (Others, that is) new computers.

    Still, isn't this a bit out of line? Why on earth should they not be allowed to supply a search function in their own OS (And as far as I understand, they still claim that Windows => IE?)
    Why is anyone at all listening to the people who complain about Opera/VLC/whatever not getting a fair chance on the windows market?

    I say "no" to Microsoft products, but I don't think we should force anyone to come to the same conclusion like this.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Is it just me, or are we treating Microsoft differently from all the other mega corporations?

      What about Net Neutrality? We demand that local cable monopolies not give preferred treatment to their own products. This is exactly like Microsoft giving preferred treatment to its own search engine, media player, web browser, etc.

      What about calls for open access in the cell phone airwaves? We want those who control the airwaves to let consumers choose to use whatever phone they want. Again, this is just like r

      • Again, this is just like requiring Microsoft to let users plug in whatever browser they want.

        Who is stopping Me or You from running Windows and using an alternative browser?

        You are right, of course, but I still think it is a bit childish to complain about the search engine used by default (Or the Media player or the Browser or mspaint.exe). Where do we draw the line between Microsoft giving you (the consumer, that is) something you ask for and the same Microsoft attempting to force you into using something?

        Perhaps I just see it a bit differently since my country isn't quite as infested with mo

        • by ATMAvatar (648864)
          I start an auto company. Through a lot of innovation and hard work (and bribes and back-alley deals), I obtain 95% market share. Everyone owns one of my cars, and every auto dealership sells only my cars.

          Suddenly, I decide that I want to make tires, too. Who could begrudge me from bundling my cars with my tires? Certainly, if the customers want to use Michelin or Firestone tires, they could replace the bundled tires when they buy the car. I'll even be a nice guy and do an even trade for the tires, b
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by oldgeezer1954 (706420)
            But if Microsoft was that car maker you'd have to bolt on your Michelins, for example, and continue to have their tires on as well. You can't remove them.

            Additionally while you may make the other tires your default the car will continue to use the Microsoft tires for some functions.

            In that scenario it is more costly to opt for anything other than MS tires. Both for the consumer and the dealer.

            As well by ensuring all microsoft cars have microsoft tires stores that sell plug kits will stock primarily those de
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by $pace6host (865145)
      I thought the problem was that Microsoft was already judged to be a monopoly, and to have abused their monopoly. See, if Microsoft has a monopoly on the O/S, and they use that O/S monopoly to harm competitors in other markets (office software, search software, media players, etc.) then the government is supposed to step in and protect competition to protect the consumers. How do they abuse their monopoly? Well, I assume you will agree that their O/S is essentially the only O/S shipped by the vast majority o
      • "I thought the problem was that Microsoft was already judged to be a monopoly, and to have abused their monopoly. See, if Microsoft has a monopoly on the O/S, and they use that O/S monopoly to harm competitors in other markets (office software, search software, media players, etc.) then the government is supposed to step in and protect competition to protect the consumers."

        I think if you looked at past US antitrust actions, you won't find much evidence of the level of ongoing scrutiny of monopolies that you
  • Joke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @07:29AM (#20432665)
    Personally, I think the whole anti-trust thing has been a joke. It has had no teeth and no real effect. Every week we read about yet something else MS has done to reinforce its monopoly status... just this week, the whole "let's pay off companies to corrupt the ISO standards process on the interestingly named, Office Open XML". The entire "let's use tons of meaningless patents to scare off competition". The political shenanigans to kill ODT in several states and even countries. The "deal" with Novell to chill other distros. The bankrolling of SCO vs. Linux. The ever-popular "let's spew continous FUD about Linux rather than tout or own good points". The list goes on and on.

    Microsoft has been doing and continues to do exactly what monopolies are not supposed to be allowed to do: use its market position and control to actively suppress competition and innovation. The Justice Department is 1) inept, 2) blind, and/or 3) 0wned.
    • It has had no teeth and no real effect.
      As is so often the case, government action reflects the will of the people.
      Most don't care to be bothered with any of the details of technology.
      The information superhighway is just another road, to be ignored unless the bridge goes out from under them.
      Many would choose OOXML over ODF because the longer acronym is probably better, no?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Or, just perhaps, the people have correctly concluded that the original basis for the antitrust decision is an unrealized fantasy.

        The browser has not become the operating system, Java is primarily used to create applications for mobile phones, there are multiple free open source browsers, and multiple bundled or for-pay drop-in browsers.

        You're right. I don't care to be bothered with the details of the technology. I don't care that Windows bundles the TCP/IP stack, compressible files, zip-format archiving,
        • Nice over-simplification of the issue. Society at large is fairly ignorant of how PCs work, by your post this is nothing more than VHS vs BETAMax. I would suggest to you a little more is at stake here, and a society that takes American Idol seriously should not be allowed to steer the future of desktop technology.
        • Java is primarily used to create applications for mobile phones...
          You're right. I don't care to be bothered with the details of the technology
          +1 Best-self-answering-comment-of-the-day
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Personally, I think the whole anti-trust thing has been a joke.

      At this point, yes it is. But that's because the people that are supposed to be overseeing the whole thing are about the biggest pro-business group you can find. If we had an administration that actually cared about anything more than money, then it wouldn't be such a joke. And for all you Ron Paul fans out there, keep in mind that in his ideal world there's no such thing as antitrust. It's all about business, and anything and everything in t
    • the whole "let's pay off companies to corrupt the ISO standards process on the interestingly named, Office Open XML"

      I don't suppose you'd care to explain how the U.S. would go about enforcing domestic law in Sweden.

      The "deal" with Novell to chill other distros. The bankrolling of SCO vs. Linux. The ever-popular "let's spew continous FUD about Linux rather than tout or own good points"

      None of which are illegal.
      • by markdavis (642305)
        >None of which are illegal.

        It is not a matter of legality.

        The whole point of monopoly regulation/oversight is to prevent them from doing things that stifle the free, competitive market... tactics that WOULD be LEGAL for non-monopolies are not necessary legal for monopolies. It depends on what the regulators dictate. Once a monopoly is declared, it is the job of the oversight body to examine the practices of the monopoly. What remedies they formulate *are* the law, for that monopoly.
      • by jc42 (318812)
        I don't suppose you'd care to explain how the U.S. would go about enforcing domestic law in Sweden.

        Easy. The US government's law-enforcement agencies, such as the Dept of Justice, the FBI, etc., have a long history of cooperating with corresponding agencies in other countries. It's quite common for such agencies to assist each other in investigations, collecting evidence that can be used in another country's legal proceedings. I'd guess that the Swedish government has already contacted several American g
    • by Erris (531066)

      Yes, it's a joke [eweek.com] but it goes on too long to be funny.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by westlake (615356)
      Personally, I think the whole anti-trust thing has been a joke. It has had no teeth and no real effect.

      Anti-trust sentiment in the states has always been short-lived.

      It was a fairly common thing for an oil lamp or a kitchen stove to blow up in your face. Petroleum at retail prices was expensive. Standard Oil changed all that.

      When the cartel was broken, customers didn't flee to the small independents as the reformers expected, they stuck with Rockefeller's regional operating companies - and the old man p

  • On track (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @08:06AM (#20432797)
    Somebody just got themselves some free laptops!
  • by BlueParrot (965239) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @08:56AM (#20432993)
    The rulings ( both in the US and EU ) has so far been jokes.
    A real anti-trust ruling would be something along the following lines:

    a)Microsoft are forced to offer the same price for OEM licenses to all retailers ( and disclose its magnitude ).
    b)Retailers are forced to offer systems without an OEM license, should the customer ask for it, with the cost reduced in accordance with the price of the license ( which Microsoft must disclose )
    c)Microsoft is banned from charging more for their retail version than the OEM license.

    Now THAT would actually cause them to shit themselves.

    Oh, and before somebody starts claiming this is unfair and Microsoft having the right to charge whatever and whatnot... NO! They lost that right because they abused their market position. We give them those rights with the intention to stimulate development that benefits society, if Microsoft abuses those rights in a way that is detrimental to the market, we are perfectly justified in taking them away again.
    • by kanweg (771128)
      Well, I may be a Mac fanboi but I'd cut MS a little bit more slack.

      a) The price may depend on the number of licenses sold.
      b) Any PC manufacturers can get the OEM license, without further conditions. This makes retailers free to offer dual boot Windows/Linux systems. It is something we currently don't see, would allow PC manufacturers to advertise the systems, getting Linux in the hands of more people. Theres days HDs are big and cheap.
      c) The retail version may be up to $50 more expensive than the OEM licen
      • by kanweg (771128)
        Here's some more:

        e) A user is free to run a legal copy of the OS in a virtual environment; and the manufacturer may take no measures to prevent that.
        f) A single copy of the OS on a computer may both be used for direct boot, or for use in a virtual environment, and the manufacturer may not take any measures to prevent that.

        Bert
        • by bit01 (644603)

          a) The price may depend on the number of licenses sold.

          No, that's price fixing. There is no reason why they should be able to charge less for volume with software. Overheads should be charged separately and be justifiable/controlled, otherwise it's a form of bundling.

          b) Any PC manufacturers can get the OEM license, without further conditions. This makes retailers free to offer dual boot Windows/Linux systems. It is something we currently don't see,

          Agreed, but I would put it in terms of saying all co

    • I believe that your proposal is quite unfair.

      If Microsoft had to offer the same price to tiny reseller outfits who sell in small volume but sell expensive stuff (e.g. because they add lots of value by shipping special-purpose systems), then that price will need to be quite high; if you ship only 50 units per year but still have support needs, the cost of supporting you and keeping you informed about products etc. is quite high.

      The high-volume box-shifters often operate on such low margins that they couldn't
      • by bit01 (644603)

        I believe that your proposal is quite unfair.

        Nonsense. The only reason why M$ can charge differently is because they are a monopoly and can price fix.

        As I understand things the principle of the OEM license is that the OEM provides first-line support.

        So they unbundle and charge for support separately.

        In a true free market where there was competition and the first sale doctrine actually applied a vendor like M$ wouldn't be able to price fix because customers would on-sell cheaper copies of Windows

    • by westlake (615356)
      Microsoft are forced to offer the same price for OEM licenses to all retailers

      This is nothing more than a resurrection of the old price-fixing scheme - the "fair trade price" - intended to drive the volume purchaser - the discount retailer - out of the market.

      Retailers are forced to offer systems without an OEM license, should the customer ask for it, with the cost reduced in accordance with the price of the license

      In other words, retailers should be forced to offer a product that their mass market cus

      • by bit01 (644603)

        Microsoft are forced to offer the same price for OEM licenses to all retailers

        This is nothing more than a resurrection of the old price-fixing scheme - the "fair trade price" - intended to drive the volume purchaser - the discount retailer - out of the market.

        No, it's recognition of the fact that software and IP in general is an unusual product. Particularly when sold by a monopoly.

        Retailers are forced to offer systems without an OEM license, should the customer ask for it, with the cost reduced in accordance with the price of the license

        In other words, retailers should be forced to offer a product that their mass market customers abandoned twenty-five years - thirty years ago - because it appeals only to the technical hobbyist and the IT pro.

        No matter that the "naked box" has its own marketing, inventory and support costs. No matter that the OEM Windows box usually ships with popular and profitable OEM installs like Microsoft Office.

        Stop exaggerating, those overheads are minimal to non-existent. You mean they're bundling and hiding the true cost of the produc

  • Are any standards specified? Or does the DoJ just shrug and say: "Idunno, I guess everythings all right." ?
    • by indiejade (850391)

      The main update page about this case, at the DoJ website [usdoj.gov] lists quite a few standards.

      And isn't this interesting?

      The filing also notes that, as Microsoft was never found to have acquired or increased its monopoly market share unlawfully, the final judgments were not designed to eliminate Microsoft's Windows monopoly or reduce Windows' market share by any particular amount. Rather, the final judgments were designed to re-invigorate competitive conditions that Microsoft had suppressed so that the market c

  • You're doing a heck of a job, Roberto.

  • As in "outer space".
  • IE is still bundled with Windows Vista
    If you call this "on-track" then you're not worried about the pesky laws.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by binaryspiral (784263)
      IE is still bundled with Windows Vista
      If you call this "on-track" then you're not worried about the pesky laws.


      Just like Safari with OS X and Konqueror in Gnome...?
      • by jZnat (793348) *
        I didn't know Apple or GNOME (or KDE since Konqueror is for KDE) were convicted monopolists...
      • Last time I checked, Apple and Gnome are not monopolies. Are the guys that make this moronic comeback all fucking idiots? Did your mother drop you on the head, you fucking asshead?
  • Hey it's not like Google doesn't pilfer Microsoft's search results anyway. What's the big diff of letting Google put their icon in place of Microsoft's. Haha! I had karma to burn ......
  • time to move to Europe, anyone?
  • Does Bill have an aisle seat for this track?
  • Cool Google Search in Vista!

    Now users can accidentally install this crap and wonder why their Vista search abilities don't work right or start crashing the system.

    How well will Google search do with audio, image/ocr searches that are necessary for products like OneNote, or developers that write their own plug-ins to Vista's search that are standard APIs, will this now also fail on Vista if Google is installed?

    I wonder how Google's search handles remote network shares and other features of the Vista search s

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