06.13.09

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Microsoft to ‘Pay’ $0.1 Billion to Settle Mississippi Case Against Its Crimes

Posted in America, Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft, Vista 7 at 10:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“…[Windows 98] must be a killer on shipments so that Netscape never gets a chance…”

Former Microsoft Vice President James Allchin in an internal memo

Summary: Microsoft’s settlement in Mississippi wrongly estimated at $100 million; abuses in Europe carry on

MANY states have already sued Microsoft only to be granted what we call ‘funny money’ settlement, which is just encouraging even more sales (possibly of the very same products that led to legal action in the first place).

The Comes case (Iowa) was unique because it was a very public one and loads of evidence ended up online. We shall soon resume going through exhibits (throughout this summer).

In large states like California there were very massive settlements (over a billion dollars), but much of the money is not being reclaimed by the public. This is a tragedy which means that Microsoft need not even pay the fines imposed. It shows that crime pays.

But anyway, out of nowhere comes this news about Microsoft settling Mississippi’s case against it. When did all that happen? Is there any material for the public to gain access to?

Microsoft settles suit with Mississippi for $100 mln

[...]

Microsoft faced a rush of class-action suits on behalf of consumers in individual states after a U.S. federal judge found in 2000 that the world’s largest software company abused its monopoly power by tying its Internet Explorer browser to its Windows operating system.

Microsoft’s de facto PR person in CNET alluded to this settlement and confirms that indeed it’s just ‘funny money’.

Those in Mississippi who purchased Microsoft products or computers containing Microsoft products between January 1, 1996, and Thursday will be eligible to receive a voucher of $12 or $5, depending on which products were purchased. The vouchers can be used toward the purchase of any software or hardware product.

This is also covered in:

A lot of people tend not to remember why such cases came up in the first place. Younger generations believe (or are led to believe) that Microsoft is being punished for having high market share, not for obtaining it illegally. A US government official famously said: “The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”

There is another important development right now, but it is happening in Europe. Groklaw wrote about it thusly:

Microsoft Announces It Will Ship Without IE in Europe – Reactions – Updated

[...]

My first reaction was, I guess that means you actually can remove the browser and Windows will still run, despite what Microsoft told the court in the US. My second was, if OEMs can choose to install IE, why wouldn’t Microsoft just sit on them in various subtle ways to make sure it’s in their best interests to always “choose” to install IE? And does this fix Vista? XP? I have some other reactions for you. Thomas Vinje of ECIS says this is “an acknowledgement of the validity of the EU Commission’s case, but it is by no means enough.

“I don’t think anybody is going to have a dominant position in a network-centric world like they had in a desktop-centric world. I just cannot believe that. And I will tell you this: it will be a shame if they do.”

James Barksdale, Former Netscape CEO

From the BBC:

European buyers of Windows 7 will have to download and install a web browser for themselves.

But wait. This is a stunt. Microsoft chose to do this for selfish reasons and Opera’s CEO calls this “a game”.

“They are trying to play a game,” said von Tetzchner, “and I don’t think anyone appreciates that fact they are trying to get away with a solution that doesn’t solve anything.

“Microsoft is proposing a solution that is not going to solve the issue or provide consumers with choice,” he added.

“We are going to cut off their air supply. Everything they’re selling, we’re going to give away for free.”

Paul Maritz, former Microsoft Vice President, referring to Netscape

Mozilla is also complaining:

As Mike Shaver, Mozilla’s vice president of engineering, articulated to me, most people download Firefox…using IE, which means leaving them browser-less (even without IE) is tantamount to cutting off their access to Firefox.

“Pitting browser against browser is hard since Netscape has 80% marketshare and we have <20% … I am convinced we have to use Windows-this is the one thing they don’t have…”

Former Microsoft Vice President James Allchin in an internal memo

The EU too is underwhelmed. Microsoft is playing dirty again.

The European Unions however is absolutely not impressed by Microsoft’s move. It is clear that what the EU wanted was to force Microsoft to include alternative browsers with Windows 7 rather than removing Internet Explorer, and with good reasons. The EU competition commission has certainly not forgotten the Windows N debacle, when they managed to force Microsoft to sell a version of Windows without a media player only to see all OEMs ship the versions with the media player included.

Can Microsoft ever change its behaviour? That’s highly doubtful. It never tried, it never did.

“Microsoft is, I think, fundamentally an evil company.”

Former Netscape Chairman James H. Clark

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4 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    June 13, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Gravatar

    “Can Microsoft ever change its behaviour? That’s highly doubtful. It never tried, it never did.”
    I won’t say that it is impossible, but no I would not expect it to happen anytime soon either.
    And on Windows N, I said before that Vista’s sound recorder can only save WMA files, unless you are running the N editions without WMP, in which you can only save WAV files.

  2. aeshna23 said,

    June 13, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Gravatar

    I think this issue is a distraction. Let Microsoft install IE with its OS. Big deal. We need to focus on ending software patents.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It’s a multi-faceted issue.

  3. Yfrwlf said,

    June 14, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Gravatar

    If consumers always had a choice between OSes when they went to purchase a new computer, that may be enough. But yes, most/all patents (including those beyond the software realm) are also very hurtful to choice and competition.

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