Cruel And Unusual, Indeed (11/20/01)

Disappointed in the likely conclusion of the "Redmond Justice" case? Heck, we don't blame you. After all, it's been proven in court that Microsoft is a monopoly that illegally abused its power to stifle competition; the company has no more appeals with which to prove otherwise. Yet despite the fact that the feds have a proverbial smoking gun, they're now willing to settle for yet another toothless consent decree that Microsoft will likely go out of its way to ignore-- and all it took was a heap of Redmond patience and a convenient change of administration. The last time we saw four years of grueling work accomplish so very little of real substance, we were graduating from college. (Ba-dum ching!)

But hey, don't be glum; after all, there's still a chance for real justice and penalties that might actually prevent future infractions. For instance, there are all those private antitrust suits still pending against Microsoft, and the fact that the feds proved the company to be a monopolist is apparently admissible evidence in those cases. Armed with that sort of ammo, surely the plaintiffs wouldn't roll over like the feds did, right?

Well, insert sound of rolling here, because as faithful viewer David McConnell points out, the Associated Press reports that Microsoft plans to settle most of those private suits-- by donating "more than $1 billion in cash, products, and services" to "the nation's poorest schools." Aw, ain't that sweet... especially since those "products and services" include "up to 200,000 refurbished computers each year" and "virtually unlimited copies of programs such as its Windows operating system and Office business software suite." Whoa, so Microsoft's going to have to atone for its monopolistic sins by indoctrinating millions of kids to the wacky world of Windows and Office? The horror! We bet Bill Gates is about to slash his wrists in despair. About the only worse penalty we can imagine is all the pizza you can eat and backrubs on demand for life.

Now, you may have noticed, as some plaintiffs' lawyers did, that this proposed settlement "does nothing to curtail Microsoft's behavior." Furthermore, it's remotely possible that you're pessimistic enough to see this as a thinly-veiled plan to extend Microsoft's monopoly instead of correcting it. (No!) Redmond, however, would be shocked at the accusation, because "the settlement would not harm competition since educators could ask to use their funds for Apple or other rival products." Of course, it doesn't say that Microsoft would actually say yes, but schools are welcome to ask anyway. And we're sure that the "nation's poorest schools" are going to jump at the chance to pass up those free copies of Windows and Office that will be useless (er, perhaps we should say more useless?) if the school opts for Macs instead of the offered Wintel systems.

Meanwhile, we have to wonder if anyone's thinking about the welfare of the schoolkids in all of this. Coercing inner-city children into using Windows? Geez, Bill... what did they ever do to you? Correct us if we're wrong, but isn't it Microsoft that's supposed to be getting punished, here? Perhaps this is all best summed up by the following quote: "Microsoft admits no wrongdoing in the settlement." Indeed, why would they?

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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far


The above scene was taken from the 11/20/01 episode:

November 20, 2001: Buffalo denizens, be thankful; this Friday brings you an Apple retail store (along with three more in various other locales). Meanwhile, Palm-Handspring merger rumors conjure forth strange echoes of the past, and Microsoft offers to settle a slew of private antitrust cases by forcing Windows on inner-city kids...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3406: Four For The Holidays (11/20/01)   Buffalo-area Mac fans (and yes, by necessity we suppose that includes most of you in Canada), it's time to start suiting up to get in line: both MacCentral and MacNN are now confirming our theory that Apple plans to open four retail stores this Friday: the previously-expected Miami, Santa Clara, and San Diego locations, plus the long-delayed Walden Galleria store...

  • 3407: Dog Eat Dog Eat Dog World (11/20/01)   Man, sometimes keeping up with the merger game is downright exhausting. Every once in a while we think that maybe it'd be best if we took it easy, limiting ourselves to hearing about the occasional AOL-Time Warner-class megadeal on the nightly news, but where's the drama in that?...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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