News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
cactus Mail Starting 5/18/98

From: jrusso@computerlaw.com (Jack Russo);
Sent at Mon, 18 May 1998 12:37:18 -0700;
Re:US, States File Microsoft Anti-trust Suit

Four other KEY points from this morning's filings and this morning's press conference:

  1. Neither the federal nor the state "generals" (it is a war, isn't it) are going in today for a TRO to stop the shipment to the OEMs (thus, the OEMs get Windows98 as it is and get to ship it if they choose to do so - - this means MSFT's OEM revenue is pretty secure (a large portion of their earnings model).

  2. No one is seeking to stop in its entirety the shipment of Windows98 to consumers as part of the preliminary injunction motion; thus, MSFT gets to ship, and will ship, the only question is what will they ship?

  3. The suits are taking the position that a "boot" screen is a separate "product" and that it is being illegally "tied" to the rest of the OS software - - this has to be a first in antitrust law - - sort of like saying that a dashboard is separate from a car because it is the first thing one sees upon entering the car. I guess cars could exist without dashboards.....they could also exist without lots of other things (e.g., four doors, glove compartments, trunks, spare tires, etc.) but we do not think of a glove compartment as separate from the car itself.

  4. For the purposes of seeking the preliminary injunction, the Proposed Order sounds very much like a "negotiation" document; it is far too complicated for a Court to enter at the preliminary injunction stage EVEN IF the "generals" can show (a) likelihood of success and (b) irreparable harm to consumers and to competition. A court is not going to force a negotiation nor is it going to enter an Order that cannot be easily and readily enforced. That's why it might have been much smarter for the government to simply seek to restrain the release of the software in its entirety absent the multiple changes that they are requiring. They must have debated that and decided that it would not stand a solid chance of success in the press, with the adminstration, or with the stock market; thus, they went for the more difficult and more complex approach of trying to get what they wanted in a new consent decree issued as part of a preliminary injunction order.

Question: Who thinks that Judge Penfield Jackson will automatically be assigned this case? Who thinks he will be the district judge to decide it? Who thinks he will do that without input from Professor Lessig?

From: cshotton@biap.com (Chuck Shotton);
Sent at Mon, 18 May 1998 12:39:03 -0700;
Re:US, States File Microsoft Anti-trust Suit

The Justice Dept. is horribly out of touch. One of the primary points in their suit regards inclusion of Netscape's browser with Windows. What an absurd bit of favoritism! Why does the DOJ single out Netscape's browser (which still controls a majority of the market)? Why doesn't the DOJ require Spyglass' browser to be installed? How about a copy of Lynx on the desktop too? Where's Sun's HotJava browser? Why aren't these mentioned in the DOJ suit? Why does the DOJ think Netscape needs special help if none of these other companies get it?

The whole suit is absurd if they base it strictly on access to the browser. It is naive for the DOJ to think that the browser is relevant at this point. 2 years ago, maybe, but now that both Microsoft and Netscape give their browsers away, whose financial interests are being served? Not Netscape's, not Microsoft's, and certainly not the consumer. But the real people that are getting screwed are the smaller software companies that cannot afford to pay lobbiests to cajole the DOJ or Congress into taking out their competition as Sun and Netscape seem to have tried with Microsoft.

It seems like this whole episode would have been more honestly dealt with if Congress had simply voted a subsidy of some sort for Netscape. Couching it in the form of a suit brought by the DOJ is just a little too transparent. But perhaps Louis Slothouber had this right when he said this smacks of "Al Capone." Basically, the DOJ thinks Microsoft is dirty, that they've done bad things, and that they need to be punished. But all they can come up with is the technology equivalent of Al Capone's tax fraud charge, that Microsoft did a naughty when they didn't put a competing product's software on their own desktop. So let's send them up the river for that, since we don't have anything more substantive.

The thing that amazes me is that the DOJ is going after an issue that is 2 or 3 years out of date and NO ONE, not Microsoft, not the press, or industry spokespeople is pointing out that the browser war is over, that Web clients are ubiquitous and free, and it just doesn't matter which one is on the desktop. It's clear that a majority of users continue to use Netscape, even though their PCs come with Internet Explorer installed. Why does the DOJ need to interfere in this process?


From: tenney@think.org (Glenn S. Tenney KOTJ);
Sent at Mon, 18 May 1998 12:35:57 -0700;
Re:US, States File Microsoft Anti-trust Suit

Microsoft was (and still is, I think) selling IE as a separate product. How many browsers are on the shelves of computer stores around the country? I've only seen two in mass distribution in the U.S. -- IE and NS.

So, if one believes that bundling IE with Win 98 is a problem, there appear to only be two options: force MS to unbundle, or force MS to level the playing field by also bundling the only other browser for sale on the market. Since MS is saying it's impossible to unbundle it, then including their only other competitor does seem to be a valid option.

Sadly, all of this could have been avoided completely if MS had just done a few things differently...


From: ben@fusiondev.com (Ben Kimball);
Sent at Mon, 18 May 1998 12:35:23 -0700;
Broadband in Austin

RoadRunner is finally coming to Austin, TX, too, thank goodness. We've also got an outfit called Symbio (www.symbio.com) that's installing 10 Base T Ethernet networks into various apartment complexes around the city. On each of these private networks is a permanent, dedicated T1 line to the internet (they promise to add another each time utilization reaches 70%). In late June I'll move in to one of these complexes and have T1 access with dedicated IP addresses for my servers for about $70/mo. I knew it'd pay off to be in Austin. ;) Hey, maybe I can even get a rent discount in return for running community intranet mail/web servers.

From: phood@aimnet.com (Phil Hood);
Sent at Mon, 18 May 1998 12:34:05 -0700;

Automated backup will one day be a killer app. Our data will never be secure until it is stored with a trusted third party. Ever erased a file accidentally, or suffered for days after a hard drive crash. Only nightly offsite data storage over broadband makes those problems go away completely. I put my paycheck in banks. I hope one day to put my data in data banks.

From: tuckerg@inch.com (Tucker Goodrich);
Sent at Mon, 18 May 1998 08:15:18 -0700;

I wake up on Sunday morning playing an eclectic mix of bluegrass music and Sinatra and I think that a couple of my friends would really like it too. So I send them an email containing a URL that connects them to my CD player. When I play a tune they hear it too. They can send in requests, via email of course.

I sent you an email before w/ a link to a program I thought you'd like, after reading this, here it is again: http://winamp.com/.

Here's the scenario: take your favorite CD, load the song files from the CD on to your hard drive, convert them to the Winamp MP3 format, put them in a directory w/ lots of other songs from other CDs, and play them in any order you want, mixing songs from different CDs if you like.

Then, since Winamp supports loading files from a web server, locate a bunch of files on the 'net, and play them too. Internet Jukebox.

A buddy of mine who goes to Rensaeller Polytechnic, where the dorms are all wired with Ethernet, and this is how they play their music. my buddy runs a server with music files on it, and every one else can request the files on demand, in any order. If the directory is part of a web server's directory tree, you've just shared it out to the 'net.

Pretty cool stuff. We use the same setup here in the office on the weekends--we mainly listen to files off the server. No need to switch CDs!

And there's a Mac version...


From: rich_thompson@cmcsmart.com (Rich Thompson);
Sent at Mon, 18 May 1998 07:41:45 -0700;

In Memphis with cable modems: We build VPNs and work at home. We attach quickcams and camcorders and watch each other on Sundays. We play games when Seinfeld is on. We share computer capacity for backups (I have 9gb, you have 2gb, put some of your stuff here). We build firewalls in our homes and erect ether-networks. In short, we have fun, geekout, and learn.

From: dmuysers@capgemini.fr (Dirk Muysers);
Sent at Mon, 18 May 1998 16:40:06 +0200;
Arm twisting

The government has a lot of power, nuclear weapons and armies. They can twist the arm of India (please!)

This time, I do not agree with you. Why should they ? When Chirac carried on with his test series, did they ? (twist his arm)

Now, is France any better than India, whose civilisation predates ours by centuries, nay millenaries ?

Why has France (55 Million people) a seat at the Security Council, and India (one fifth of the whole humanity), not ?

As much as I hate anything nuclear, I think India is right this time, and I fully support it.

Don't be surprised if the single result (if any) Bill Clinton will reap will be an increased hatred of the Western way of life and ideology.

You must forgive my chastising you, but I am 65, and I lived quite some time in India, so I think I know a little bit better.

From: Tommy.Williams@Vanderbilt.Edu (Tommy Williams);
Sent at Mon, 18 May 1998 09:29:24 -0500;
Broadband cable

I live in Nashville, TN, where Intermedia is the primary cable vendor. They have been offering high-speed access since last summer. I signed up late in 1997, and haven't touched my 128K ISDN multilink PPP connection since.

It's fast, it's always up, and I won't even consider moving to a city that doesn't offer something similar.

I used to transfer all kinds of stuff between home and work with Zip disks. Not anymore. I've written some file synchronization routines in Frontier and load things back and forth via FTP.

It's been a revolutionary change.


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