11.24.08

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States Are in Huge Debt, But Microsoft Keeps ‘Crime Money’ in Bank

Posted in Asia, Finance, Microsoft at 8:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Government attorneys accuse Microsoft of using its monopoly position to bully, bribe and attempt to collude with others in the industry, while illegally expanding and protecting its Windows franchise.”

The antitrust case: a timeline

There is a lot of despairing news for Microsoft at the moment, so be prepared for many posts containing many references. The first one is yet another eye opener about a subject that we covered last month.

Microsoft engaged in illegal activities and was ultimately requested to pay compensation to schools in the State of California. But it’s rather outrageous that while poverty spreads and Microsoft is burning up its remaining cash reserves, the money it owes schools remains almost untouched in its bank account. Here is a new article that protests against it.

It’s a windfall for California public schools: a $250 million grant from Microsoft for new computers, software and training, part of a $1.1-billion class-action lawsuit settlement against the company.

[...]

But two years later, nearly 80 percent of the money is still in the vault, unclaimed by California schools. Only a few Kern County school districts have started cashing in.

The Panama-Buena Vista Union School District has had more than $519,000 of the pool set aside in its name, but, according to the settlement administrator’s Web site, the money is still sitting there.

Ditto for some of Kern County’s smaller districts: Mojave Unified ($147,837), Buttonwillow ($19,305) and General Shafter ($15,240) haven’t dipped into their share of the settlement money.

It’s important that they take advantage of the settlement, and not just for the most obvious reasons. The state’s schools will eventually receive an even larger payout once a final part of the lawsuit is settled, but state attorneys might not be as motivated to pursue it while the original pot remains so full.

“What a scam,” says one of our readers. “First the delay of many years and then the whittling down of a $1.1 billion settlement to a paltry $0.250 billion.”

This isn’t the first such article and it is a total disaster for the juridical system. The state was entitled to this compensation years ago, but the money just keeps sitting in Microsoft’s bank account. In some cases, the money is used up by purchasing more licences for copies of software from Microsoft (i.e. the abused paying the abuser again), but in other cases this money is being used to install GNU/Linux on new PCs in Californian schools. Christian Einfeldt and others are leaders of this effort, but remain just few among this cause.

Another case of abused Microsoft customers is China where black screens of death struck the nation, then leading to lawsuits against Microsoft for intrusion and sabotage of people’s personal computers. There is an update on this in the Financial Times for those who are interested in finer details and progress.

When Microsoft rolled out its latest anti-piracy initiative this year, it was not aimed at any particular country. Windows Genuine Advantage, a tool that identifies users of counterfeit software and pushes them to buy the real thing, was launched worldwide in several geographical blocs.

But Microsoft ran into trouble when the roll-out hit China last month. While users in other markets kept silent when hit by one of WGA’s more extreme features, a mechanism that blackens the desktop background on computers found to be using counterfeit Windows, their Chinese peers broke into a storm of anger, forcing Microsoft officials in the country into damage control mode.

Lastly, it was only a week ago that we explained why Microsoft is now abusing some of its most effective distributors. Microsoft needs cash. We used China as a specific example from the news and now there are some more cases and coverage in the United States, e.g.

1. Microsoft wins lawsuit

TULSA, Okla. (AP) – A Tulsa business is being ordered to pay Microsoft Corp. nearly $1 million in damages in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

2. Microsoft Wins Copyright-Infringement Suit Vs Okla Co -Report

U.S. District Judge Terence Kern issued a written order Thursday in which he found that Microsoft was owed $970,000 in damages and $25,182.25 in attorney fees in its civil lawsuit against James Dignan and his company, AllPro Computer and Gaming, the report said.

To summarise, Microsoft is getting aggressive and is now asserting its full rights to be paid for copies of its software while at the same time failing to pay Californian schools for the crime it committed, just as it does not pay tax in India, among other places.

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