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[luga] Last chance to object to the Microsoft settlement



Hallo alle,

The close for public comment in the US vs Microsoft anti trust settlement is 
Monday 28 January 15:00 CET.  If you find this settlement unsatisfactory or 
objectionable, the Tunny Act gives you the possibility to make comment 
to the US Department of Justice for a period of 60 days after publication of 
the revised proposed Final Judgment.  

If you want to read the proposed Final judgement, it is available at:

     http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f9400/9495.htm

with additional information at http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/ms-settle.htm

It is not necessary to comment on the entire proposal.  In fact you can say 
something as short as "I object to the proposed settlement because it fails 
to adequately prevent anticompetitive practices used by Microsoft".

Write an email to:

     microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov

with the subject:

     Microsoft Settlement.

You should put your name and address in the email.

You can also look at additional resources and an online pettition at 
http://www.kegel.com/remedy/, although he is only accepting signatures from 
US citizens.  

I have written, I hope others do to.  If we don't stop this now, Microsoft 
have won the biggest victory they could hope to win.

Ian

The email I sent:

Subject: Microsoft Settlement
From: Ian Ballantyne <ian@onlineloop.com>
To: microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 22:38:29 +0100

Dear Sir,

I am writing to comment on, and object to, the currently proposed settlement 
with Microsoft in the antitrust case.

The remedies in the Proposed Final Judgement specifically protect companies 
in commerce -- organizations in business for profit. On the surface, that 
makes sense because Microsoft was found guilty of monopolistic activities 
against "competing" commercial software vendors like Netscape, and other 
commercial vendors -- computer vendors like Compaq, for example. The 
Department of Justice is used to working in this kind of economic world, and 
has done a fair job of crafting a remedy that will rein in Microsoft without 
causing undue harm to the rest of the commercial portion of the industry. 

But Microsoft's greatest single threat on the operating system front comes 
from Linux -- a non-commercial -- and it faces a growing threat on the 
applications front from Open Source and freeware applications. 

The biggest competitor to Microsoft Internet Information Server is Apache, 
which comes from the Apache Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation. Apache 
runs an outright majority of web servers in the internet. Sendmail, and Perl, 
both of which also come from non-profits, are also critical backbones on the 
internet. Yet not-for-profit organizations have no rights at all under the 
proposed settlement.

Section III(J)(2) contains some very strong language against not-for-profits. 
Specifically, the language says that Microsoft need not describe nor license 
API, Documentation, or Communications Protocols affecting authentication and 
authorization to companies that don't meet Microsoft's criteria as a 
business: "...(c) meets reasonable, objective standards established by 
Microsoft for certifying the authenticity and viability of its business, ..." 
Such language, and therefore the settlement, gives Microsoft the right to 
effectively kill products such as Apache, Sendmail, Perl, and every other 
not-for-profit software product that must in some way communicate, work or be 
compitible with Microsoft products. 

Section III(D) takes this disturbing trend even further. It deals with 
disclosure of information regarding the APIs for incorporating non-Microsoft 
"middleware." In this section, Microsoft discloses to Independent Software 
Vendors (ISVs), Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs), Internet Access 
Providers (IAPs), Internet Content Providers (ICPs), and Original Equipment 
Manufacturers (OEMs) the information needed to inter-operate with Windows at 
this level. Yet, when we look in the footnotes at the legal definitions for 
these outfits, we find the definitions specify commercial concerns only. It 
therefore excludes those not-for-profit foundations and the developers 
associated with them from obtaining critical information to make the products 
of those foundations compatible and able to function with Microsoft products. 

If this language gets through, MICROSOFT WILL FIND A WAY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF 
IT. Microsoft will find a way to shut out Open Source and not-for-profit 
developers and the products they work on. The proposed three person commitee 
will be powerless to change this since it is a legally binding settlement. 
This settlement will further assist Microsoft to destroy any competition that 
Microsoft does not approve of, such as Apache, Sendmail, Samba, Perl, and the 
Linux operating system itself.  

This settlement at best does extremely little to curb the power of Microsoft. 
In my opinion as a professional software developer, this settlement in fact 
gives Microsoft even more power than they had before. That's because they now 
have a legally binding document that allows them to fully legally justify 
their refusal to provide critical information, or for that matter any 
information at all, to not-for-profit foundations and individuals who may 
develop products that must somehow work with Microsoft products.  If this 
deal goes through as it is written, Microsoft will emerge from the case not 
just unscathed, but stronger than before and with what is essentially a stamp 
of approval from the United States Department of Justice itself for their 
business practices in the past.

For the reasons stated above I object to the proposed settlement between the 
United States Department of Justice and Microsoft. 

Yours faithfully
Ian Ballantyne
Maerzstrasse 52/8
1150 Vienna
Austria, Europe



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