WinInfo Daily UPDATE, March 22, 2004

==== This Issue Sponsored By ====

Argent Software

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==== Sponsor: Argent Software ====

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====================

In the News

- Nebraska to Pursue Microsoft Antitrust Case
- EU Considers Second Microsoft Probe

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Nebraska to Pursue Microsoft Antitrust Case

The Nebraska Supreme Court decided on Friday to revive an antitrust-related class-action lawsuit against Microsoft that asserts that the software giant overcharged consumers in that state for Windows 98. The suit's renewal is taking place in a dramatically different legal landscape than existed when a lower court dismissed the case in mid-2003. Today, Microsoft faces an imminent legal defeat at the hands of the European Union (EU), and the company is involved in its first state-based antitrust trial in Minnesota, a trial that features charges similar to the Nebraska charges.
"It's kind of exciting when the little guy takes on the big guy," Lead Attorney Robert Hillis said of the decision. Hillis represents two women from Fremont, Nebraska, but believes the class-action suit could eventually represent at least 4000 consumers. Hillis says he'll have to collect data from Microsoft to determine exactly how many consumers the suit might affect.
In its ruling, the Nebraska Supreme Court noted that its earlier decision to uphold a lower court dismissal of the case was in error because the lower court misinterpreted the language of that state's Consumer Protection Act. According to the Nebraska Supreme Court, even companies that don't sell products directly to consumers, as was the case with Win98, can be sued for overcharging consumers. The Nebraska case is just one of more than 30 similar suits Microsoft faced in the wake of its federal antitrust trial, in which a US District Court found that the company's overcharging of customers for its Windows and Microsoft Office products was part of its monopoly abuses.
Interestingly, the Nebraska decision was divided, with three of the seven members of the Nebraska Supreme Court dissenting. To reach its decision, the Supreme Court ultimately adopted the rationale behind the Iowa Competition Law, which stipulates that consumers be protected from price gouging, even in the event of indirect sales. This reasoning is sharply different from how the US Supreme Court interprets federal antitrust law, in which consumers aren't protected in the event of indirect sales. "To deny the indirect purchaser, who in this case is the ultimate purchaser, the right to seek relief from unlawful conduct would essentially remove the word 'consumer' from the Consumer Protection Act," Judge John Wright wrote in the court's decision.
The Nebraska case is now headed back to a lower court, which will hold further hearings to determine whether the case should go to trial. The lower court will make a revised decision based on the notion that Microsoft is indeed liable for overcharging even those consumers who purchased Win98 indirectly from Microsoft, such as purchasing from hardware makers new PCs that included preinstalled copies of Win98.
A Microsoft representative expressed disappointment in the decision. "Microsoft has been a market leader in delivering great software at very competitive prices and has even reduced prices while adding features and functionality to its products," the spokesperson said. "Our high-volume, low-cost business model empowers consumers and is the opposite of overcharging."

EU Considers Second Microsoft Probe

Just days before the European Union (EU) is set to announce its final ruling against Microsoft for alleged antitrust abuses, EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said he was considering a second probe into the software giant's activities. Prompted by complaints from the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a trade organization comprised of Microsoft competitors, the EU will likely investigate whether Windows XP violates European antitrust laws by locking out competition.
"We are in preliminary investigations," an EU spokesperson said over the weekend, practically eliciting a delighted squeal from CCIA President and CEO Ed Black. "We are pleased that \[the Commission\] didn't settle \[its current antitrust case\] as this will allow the European authorities to deal with future Microsoft cases," Black said. "The Commission is taking our complaint seriously. It has sent the letters to us. The process is going on. A lot of people do not want to live in a Microsoft-only world. Microsoft has a way of making its anticompetitive tools support the monopoly efforts in other areas. If the Commission finds the scheme anticompetitive, then it will need to impose sweeping, structural remedies."
Given the glacial pace of its initial Microsoft probe, the EU probably won't propose any sweeping structural remedies against Microsoft in the near future. The EU launched the case that's winding up this week more than 5 years ago, and 5 years from now, XP will likely be an unsupported legacy product. Even the current case could still be tied up in the European courts at that point if the courts let Microsoft appeal what's expected to be a devastating decision.
Regarding the CCIA allegations, Microsoft says it will reply when and if required by European courts. "We will look at the issues when they are raised and address them if necessary," a Microsoft spokesperson said over the weekend.

==== Announcement ====

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http://www.winconnections.com

==== Events Central ====

(A complete Web and live events directory brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine: http://www.winnetmag.com/events )

New--Microsoft Security Strategies Roadshow!

We've teamed with Microsoft, Avanade, and Network Associates to help you better protect your infrastructure and applications against security threats. Learn how to implement a patch-management strategy; lock down servers, workstations, and network infrastructure; and implement security policy management. Register now for this free event.
http://www.winnetmag.com/roadshows/computersecurity2004

==== Sponsored Link ====

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==== This Issue Sponsored By ====

Argent Software http://www.argent.com/products/download.cgi?product=xxx&Source=WNT

==== Sponsor: Argent Software ====

Free Download: Monitor Your Entire Infrastructure with ONE Solution The Argent Guardian monitors servers, applications, any and all SNMP-compliant devices as well as the overall health of the entire network at a fraction of the cost of "framework" solutions. Network Testing Labs states that "The Argent Guardian will cost far less than MOM and yet provide significantly more functionality." Using a patented Agent-Optional architecture, the Argent Guardian is easily installed and monitoring your infrastructure in a matter of hours. Download a fully-functioning copy of the Argent Guardian at: http://www.argent.com/products/download.cgi?product=xxx&Source=WNT

====================

In the News - Nebraska to Pursue Microsoft Antitrust Case - EU Considers Second Microsoft Probe

==== In the News ==== by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Nebraska to Pursue Microsoft Antitrust Case The Nebraska Supreme Court decided on Friday to revive an antitrust-related class-action lawsuit against Microsoft that asserts that the software giant overcharged consumers in that state for Windows 98. The suit's renewal is taking place in a dramatically different legal landscape than existed when a lower court dismissed the case in mid-2003. Today, Microsoft faces an imminent legal defeat at the hands of the European Union (EU), and the company is involved in its first state-based antitrust trial in Minnesota, a trial that features charges similar to the Nebraska charges. "It's kind of exciting when the little guy takes on the big guy," Lead Attorney Robert Hillis said of the decision. Hillis represents two women from Fremont, Nebraska, but believes the class-action suit could eventually represent at least 4000 consumers. Hillis says he'll have to collect data from Microsoft to determine exactly how many consumers the suit might affect. In its ruling, the Nebraska Supreme Court noted that its earlier decision to uphold a lower court dismissal of the case was in error because the lower court misinterpreted the language of that state's Consumer Protection Act. According to the Nebraska Supreme Court, even companies that don't sell products directly to consumers, as was the case with Win98, can be sued for overcharging consumers. The Nebraska case is just one of more than 30 similar suits Microsoft faced in the wake of its federal antitrust trial, in which a US District Court found that the company's overcharging of customers for its Windows and Microsoft Office products was part of its monopoly abuses. Interestingly, the Nebraska decision was divided, with three of the seven members of the Nebraska Supreme Court dissenting. To reach its decision, the Supreme Court ultimately adopted the rationale behind the Iowa Competition Law, which stipulates that consumers be protected from price gouging, even in the event of indirect sales. This reasoning is sharply different from how the US Supreme Court interprets federal antitrust law, in which consumers aren't protected in the event of indirect sales. "To deny the indirect purchaser, who in this case is the ultimate purchaser, the right to seek relief from unlawful conduct would essentially remove the word 'consumer' from the Consumer Protection Act," Judge John Wright wrote in the court's decision. The Nebraska case is now headed back to a lower court, which will hold further hearings to determine whether the case should go to trial. The lower court will make a revised decision based on the notion that Microsoft is indeed liable for overcharging even those consumers who purchased Win98 indirectly from Microsoft, such as purchasing from hardware makers new PCs that included preinstalled copies of Win98. A Microsoft representative expressed disappointment in the decision. "Microsoft has been a market leader in delivering great software at very competitive prices and has even reduced prices while adding features and functionality to its products," the spokesperson said. "Our high-volume, low-cost business model empowers consumers and is the opposite of overcharging."

EU Considers Second Microsoft Probe Just days before the European Union (EU) is set to announce its final ruling against Microsoft for alleged antitrust abuses, EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said he was considering a second probe into the software giant's activities. Prompted by complaints from the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a trade organization comprised of Microsoft competitors, the EU will likely investigate whether Windows XP violates European antitrust laws by locking out competition. "We are in preliminary investigations," an EU spokesperson said over the weekend, practically eliciting a delighted squeal from CCIA President and CEO Ed Black. "We are pleased that \[the Commission\] didn't settle \[its current antitrust case\] as this will allow the European authorities to deal with future Microsoft cases," Black said. "The Commission is taking our complaint seriously. It has sent the letters to us. The process is going on. A lot of people do not want to live in a Microsoft-only world. Microsoft has a way of making its anticompetitive tools support the monopoly efforts in other areas. If the Commission finds the scheme anticompetitive, then it will need to impose sweeping, structural remedies." Given the glacial pace of its initial Microsoft probe, the EU probably won't propose any sweeping structural remedies against Microsoft in the near future. The EU launched the case that's winding up this week more than 5 years ago, and 5 years from now, XP will likely be an unsupported legacy product. Even the current case could still be tied up in the European courts at that point if the courts let Microsoft appeal what's expected to be a devastating decision. Regarding the CCIA allegations, Microsoft says it will reply when and if required by European courts. "We will look at the issues when they are raised and address them if necessary," a Microsoft spokesperson said over the weekend.

==== Announcement ==== (from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Windows & .NET Magazine Connections Windows & .NET Magazine Connections features speakers from Microsoft and other top independent experts. Complete details about workshops, breakout sessions, and speakers are now online. All attendees will get a chance to win a Florida vacation. Keep your competitive edge by learning from the world's best experts. Go online now to register. http://www.winconnections.com

==== Events Central ==== (A complete Web and live events directory brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine: http://www.winnetmag.com/events )

New--Microsoft Security Strategies Roadshow! We've teamed with Microsoft, Avanade, and Network Associates to help you better protect your infrastructure and applications against security threats. Learn how to implement a patch-management strategy; lock down servers, workstations, and network infrastructure; and implement security policy management. Register now for this free event. http://www.winnetmag.com/roadshows/computersecurity2004

==== Sponsored Link ====

Microsoft(TM) Enter the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Challenge. Win BIG prizes. http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;7509848;8214395;y?http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/challenge/default.mspx

==== This Issue Sponsored By ====

Argent Software http://www.argent.com/products/download.cgi?product=xxx&Source=WNT

==== Sponsor: Argent Software ====

Free Download: Monitor Your Entire Infrastructure with ONE Solution The Argent Guardian monitors servers, applications, any and all SNMP-compliant devices as well as the overall health of the entire network at a fraction of the cost of "framework" solutions. Network Testing Labs states that "The Argent Guardian will cost far less than MOM and yet provide significantly more functionality." Using a patented Agent-Optional architecture, the Argent Guardian is easily installed and monitoring your infrastructure in a matter of hours. Download a fully-functioning copy of the Argent Guardian at: http://www.argent.com/products/download.cgi?product=xxx&Source=WNT

====================

In the News - Nebraska to Pursue Microsoft Antitrust Case - EU Considers Second Microsoft Probe

==== In the News ==== by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Nebraska to Pursue Microsoft Antitrust Case The Nebraska Supreme Court decided on Friday to revive an antitrust-related class-action lawsuit against Microsoft that asserts that the software giant overcharged consumers in that state for Windows 98. The suit's renewal is taking place in a dramatically different legal landscape than existed when a lower court dismissed the case in mid-2003. Today, Microsoft faces an imminent legal defeat at the hands of the European Union (EU), and the company is involved in its first state-based antitrust trial in Minnesota, a trial that features charges similar to the Nebraska charges. "It's kind of exciting when the little guy takes on the big guy," Lead Attorney Robert Hillis said of the decision. Hillis represents two women from Fremont, Nebraska, but believes the class-action suit could eventually represent at least 4000 consumers. Hillis says he'll have to collect data from Microsoft to determine exactly how many consumers the suit might affect. In its ruling, the Nebraska Supreme Court noted that its earlier decision to uphold a lower court dismissal of the case was in error because the lower court misinterpreted the language of that state's Consumer Protection Act. According to the Nebraska Supreme Court, even companies that don't sell products directly to consumers, as was the case with Win98, can be sued for overcharging consumers. The Nebraska case is just one of more than 30 similar suits Microsoft faced in the wake of its federal antitrust trial, in which a US District Court found that the company's overcharging of customers for its Windows and Microsoft Office products was part of its monopoly abuses. Interestingly, the Nebraska decision was divided, with three of the seven members of the Nebraska Supreme Court dissenting. To reach its decision, the Supreme Court ultimately adopted the rationale behind the Iowa Competition Law, which stipulates that consumers be protected from price gouging, even in the event of indirect sales. This reasoning is sharply different from how the US Supreme Court interprets federal antitrust law, in which consumers aren't protected in the event of indirect sales. "To deny the indirect purchaser, who in this case is the ultimate purchaser, the right to seek relief from unlawful conduct would essentially remove the word 'consumer' from the Consumer Protection Act," Judge John Wright wrote in the court's decision. The Nebraska case is now headed back to a lower court, which will hold further hearings to determine whether the case should go to trial. The lower court will make a revised decision based on the notion that Microsoft is indeed liable for overcharging even those consumers who purchased Win98 indirectly from Microsoft, such as purchasing from hardware makers new PCs that included preinstalled copies of Win98. A Microsoft representative expressed disappointment in the decision. "Microsoft has been a market leader in delivering great software at very competitive prices and has even reduced prices while adding features and functionality to its products," the spokesperson said. "Our high-volume, low-cost business model empowers consumers and is the opposite of overcharging."

EU Considers Second Microsoft Probe Just days before the European Union (EU) is set to announce its final ruling against Microsoft for alleged antitrust abuses, EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said he was considering a second probe into the software giant's activities. Prompted by complaints from the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a trade organization comprised of Microsoft competitors, the EU will likely investigate whether Windows XP violates European antitrust laws by locking out competition. "We are in preliminary investigations," an EU spokesperson said over the weekend, practically eliciting a delighted squeal from CCIA President and CEO Ed Black. "We are pleased that \[the Commission\] didn't settle \[its current antitrust case\] as this will allow the European authorities to deal with future Microsoft cases," Black said. "The Commission is taking our complaint seriously. It has sent the letters to us. The process is going on. A lot of people do not want to live in a Microsoft-only world. Microsoft has a way of making its anticompetitive tools support the monopoly efforts in other areas. If the Commission finds the scheme anticompetitive, then it will need to impose sweeping, structural remedies." Given the glacial pace of its initial Microsoft probe, the EU probably won't propose any sweeping structural remedies against Microsoft in the near future. The EU launched the case that's winding up this week more than 5 years ago, and 5 years from now, XP will likely be an unsupported legacy product. Even the current case could still be tied up in the European courts at that point if the courts let Microsoft appeal what's expected to be a devastating decision. Regarding the CCIA allegations, Microsoft says it will reply when and if required by European courts. "We will look at the issues when they are raised and address them if necessary," a Microsoft spokesperson said over the weekend.

==== Announcement ==== (from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Windows & .NET Magazine Connections Windows & .NET Magazine Connections features speakers from Microsoft and other top independent experts. Complete details about workshops, breakout sessions, and speakers are now online. All attendees will get a chance to win a Florida vacation. Keep your competitive edge by learning from the world's best experts. Go online now to register. http://www.winconnections.com

==== Events Central ==== (A complete Web and live events directory brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine: http://www.winnetmag.com/events )

New--Microsoft Security Strategies Roadshow! We've teamed with Microsoft, Avanade, and Network Associates to help you better protect your infrastructure and applications against security threats. Learn how to implement a patch-management strategy; lock down servers, workstations, and network infrastructure; and implement security policy management. Register now for this free event. http://www.winnetmag.com/roadshows/computersecurity2004

==== Sponsored Link ====

Microsoft(TM) Enter the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Challenge. Win BIG prizes. http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;7509848;8214395;y?http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/challenge/default.mspx

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