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Consumers get $180 million in Microsoft settlement, lawyers get $75 million

Microsoft has settled its long-running antitrust case in Iowa. The lawsuit, which was initially filed in 2000, claimed that Microsoft was involved in anticompetitive business practices which in turn resulted in higher prices for consumers.

The lead plaintiffs in the case, Des Moines lawyer Roxanne Conlin and Minneapolis lawyer Richard Hagstrom will receive $75 million in legal fee and expenses as a result of the settlement -- a record for the state of Iowa.

The $75 million in fees represent a bill rate of $575 an hour for each of the 150 lawyers, clerks and paralegals involved in the case. Over a seven year period, 117,000 hours were logged in relation to the case. The individual rate for Conlin and Hagstrom works out to $1,072 dollars per hour. The payout for the two lawyers also includes a 43 percent risk premium which was approved by a Polk County district judge.

While the lawyers will receive $75 million, Iowans will receive $179.95 million -- $330 million was originally requested. Microsoft will dish out $10, $16, $25 and $29 respectively for Word/Works/Home Essential, Windows/DOS, Excel and Office. Individual consumers can claim up to $200 without a proof of purchase, however, any amount exceeding $200 must be backed with supporting documentation.

Iowa consumers will receive their settlements in checks from Microsoft while businesses and government bodies will receive pay vouchers.

Some Iowans aren't happy with the settlements they are receiving in relation to the payout reserved for lawyer fees. "How in the name of all that is sacred can you even imagine that to be equitable?" inquired Parkersburg resident Betty Klingenbord. "I also do not like how this makes Iowa look. Where will these lawsuits end?"

The settlement covers Iowans who purchased Microsoft software between May 18, 1994 and June 30, 2006. Customers who wish to receive their reimbursements from Microsoft must do so before the December 14 deadline.

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RE: Lol
By Screwballl on 9/4/2007 12:27:25 PM , Rating: 2
Websters definition:
1. exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices.

The point is "a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices".

/start sarcasm/
88% of Vista users hate Vista... the other 12% are lying.
/end sarcasm/

I have always thought that even OEM pricing (Newegg, ZipZoomFly, of their software is severely overpriced. MS is in with the OEM manufacturers to help sell their products. You have the choice of a $200 OS on a $400 PC, the hardware obviously did not only cost them $200.
The problem is that 80%+ of users do not know of any alternative which makes this a monopoly to them. Of course there is Linux and Open Office and Firefox and alternatives but very few know of these items. Most of us here know of them and likely use them on a limited to everyday basis.
I work for a small national ISP and you would be surprised at the high percentage of customers that have never heard of a free anti-virus or Firefox or thought Linux still used punch cards. This represents a good slice of every day people. When the people are not aware of an alternative then MS may as well be a monopoly with exclusivity. This is the point of many of the lawsuits. MS knows about the consumer lack of knowledge on the subject and charges accordingly. They know that the "tech" crowd is such a small portion of the purchasing consumer that there is nothing we can do other than go with Firefox or Linux or whatever...

I am waiting for the day when the first question OEMs and retailers ask when selling a PC is "Windows or Linux?"

RE: Lol
By Munkles on 9/4/2007 12:38:27 PM , Rating: 2
Ive used a LOT of OS's, three variations of Mac OS (mostly newer ones) 4 distro's of linux with and tried different interface options. Ive also used every version of Windows to date.

So why did I choose to drop $500 on a REATAIL copy of Vista Ultimate? I did so because IMHO its worth every penny. Ive seen he competition, and I don't like it. Ive USED the competition. Ive dealt with their issues and their constraints. Whatever stories you like to tell yourself to fall asleep at night are just that, stories. Microsoft is on top of their competition for a reason sheer usability. Its not the ability to get free software, or compatibility... although it does help.

The system is just better.

I have yet to meet someone who can tell me why they don't like Vista and have it be reason that cannot be fixed with proper understanding of the OS. Some business suites cannot run on Vista but that is not a reason to dislike the OS, but an "I just wish it worked". Vista is NOT perfect but ill take its shortcomings over the competition any day.

Ohh and take it from someone who's spoken to hundreds of consumers on this very issue. People don't like Vista because they think their supposed to not like it. Not because they have ANY experience with it.

Please qualify your arguments against Vista or check your personal feelings at the door. The only thing MS manipulates is trying to keep the price of their product at a level that its worth, and their software engineers to keep making good products.

RE: Lol
By Screwballl on 9/4/2007 4:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
How about a larger percentage of software that will not work with it. From free anti-virus to firewall to games and more, there is more software than ever that simply will not run in Vista even if their SCL (Software compatibility list) says it will. Half the time it runs... for a day or two then dies, and the only fix is a reinstall every few days.
Or how about a larger number of hardware items that do not have proper drivers because of MS outrageous requirements to get a driver WHQL'd?
Or how about the gutting of the very base of the video and sound subsystems? Forcing the video and sound to be processed by the OS (software) instead of at the kernel level to output to the sound or video device which gets a small fraction of the info needed causing the emulation slowdown. Games and high end apps run slower because of both the sound and video emulation.
There is little to no exclusive coding even with a dedicated sound or video card. It all acts like software-based onboard sound and video solutions on previous OS's.
Eye candy; a majority of the eye candy is nothing but using needed system resources. Sure they look neat but it is not required to run the OS. Much like power steering, power brakes, anti-lock brakes, A/C and more is all not required to run a vehicle, but it is included. In the case of the A/C, we sacrifice performance and gas mileage for cooling off the body. I prefer having control over where my resources go.
Administrative options; you can lock down the system but then it becomes as useless as a 6th toe.
DRM; If I buy it or use it within my legal rights, I will use it how I wish within my possession. I will not upload or share via P2P, I want the option to manage my digital media as I wish without being locked into some asinine handcuffs on my rights. Its good that it verifies the digital signal from the video card to the monitor but other schemes are just to strict for my rights and freedoms.

There is more but I only have so much time and space to type. As a long time computer tech, I see this new OS as total junk, more or less Windows ME2. Why else you think they announced the next OS to be released or at least beta tested in 2009? This is just a stop gap to make MS more money in their pockets.

RE: Lol
By TomZ on 9/4/2007 4:29:07 PM , Rating: 1
Where are you getting all your Vista information? Are you actually using it, or just reading the blogs of Linux fanbois ranting about Vista?

I would break down and refute your entire post line-by-line, because it's complete bullshit, but to be honest, I don't think it would make any difference and it's not worth my time. Suffice it to say you're deluding yourself with all this misinformation. You must enjoy your head in the sand.

RE: Lol
By Screwballl on 9/4/2007 4:44:21 PM , Rating: 2
I use it daily (2-12 hours per day) as a tech support specialist for a small national ISP. The more I use it, the more I dislike it personally and from a Tech standpoint.
Had more programs crash on me in the first week of using it (starting about 3 months ago) than I ever did using XP. Still have several daily crashes or random software (one example is X-Lite VoIP software telephone).
This is not one single occurrence, this is happening on every single computer that uses Vista, even if I have never touched it.

Anandtech is on Part 3 of their "Messy transition" stories about problems with Vista.

RE: Lol
By Nekrik on 9/4/2007 5:46:22 PM , Rating: 2
I just went to look at the X-Lite VoIP software you mentioned:

They don't even support Vista, they only indicate support for XP/2000. As a tech support specialist you should be well aware that running software on an unsupported OS pretty much means you're using at your own risk and it very well may not work.

You really can't blame Microsoft for user errors such as this.

RE: Lol
By TomZ on 9/4/2007 10:48:50 PM , Rating: 2
Well, let's compare notes. I run an engineering company, and all our workstations are running Vista. We run e-CAD applications, simulation apps, software development IDEs (lots of them, for Windows and embedded systems programming for various processors), UML modeling tools, MATLAB/Simulink, graphic design apps, and a whole list of scientific/engineering apps used for automotive ECU development (most you never heard of).

Not to mention accounting, time tracking, and project management apps. On top of all that, we also do a lot of USB device driver development, and so we plug/unplug devices a lot, and generally hammer the development machines. All this runs on Vista. No problems - just as I said, a couple of older apps that have to be run as adminstrator.

Sure, Vista is not perfect - but it is at least as good as XP, and probably better. Furthermore, when you compare the "starting point" for Vista (i.e., the first release) compared to the initial release of XP, there is really no comparison at all.

RE: Lol
By Munkles on 9/4/2007 4:58:38 PM , Rating: 2
Great so obviously your using linux right? Slackware? I mean if you want FULL control? Wait you don't really want full control do you, you want the illusion of full control.

Im not sure what SCL you're referring to but on a daily basis I install ~8-12 new programs and remove a few each day as well as my line of work requires me to know about many programs, at least to know how they function and what they do. To date the biggest issue of software compatibility Ive had was that adobe acrobat wouldn't install until I turned UAC back on. <- not a big deal. I have no performance issues even with vista's eye candy purportedly hogging my resources. I don't care whether or not my OS touches my sound and video just so long as its clean and clear.

The DRM isn't all MS doing. Many companies express the desire for this. I'm no fan of DRM but thats why you can still get and use DRM free music, and they work JUST THE SAME on a xp based machine as they do in Vista.

You maybe a long time computer tech, but you certainly have some funny ideas about technology. As a tech you should know that its always going to change, its always going to progress and often times your software, or your old hardware just wont fit the bill anymore. Maybe your tired of playing the game but that doesnt mean technology will stop progressing. The ability for Vista to multi thread or to handle more memory, having dx10, this is all VERY important to the progression of the system. FURTHERMORE; the biggest issue with ME was stability. So far in using vista across 4 beta releases and the finished product and for almost 2 years now, my computer has not EVER crashed. Its restarted twice on me, both due to improper ventilation (no fault of the os) and in spite of my best efforts (even with no AV) I have not, and can not seem to contract a virus.

Most of what you say just sounds like the bitter rant of a Linux fanboy. Go ahead, use Linux no ones stopping you. No ones telling you that you HAVE to switch to Vista or use it. All people like myself are saying is to stop spreading mis truth about and OS you do not seem to be eminently qualified to do so with.

You seem to be upset with Vista as a stepping stone, well guess what so far ALL technology ALL OS's are stepping stones to the next one. I would rather MS release their software close together IMHO people got to used to XP too complacent and XP imposed limitations on hardware manufacturers to produce new and exciting products because hey would be lost on the OS, and its inability to utilize them.

Get used to change, even the mighty Linux changes daily.

RE: Lol
By TomZ on 9/4/2007 12:39:40 PM , Rating: 2
I think it is certainly true that Microsoft has some pricing control, but not complete control. Consider, for example, a hypothetical situation where Microsoft decided to raise the cost of Windows to $1000/machine. What would be the effect of that? That's easy - Linux and OSX use would skyrocket overnight. If you agree about this, then it should be clear that Microsoft does not have a pure monopoly in the same sense that AT&T used to have with phone service in the U.S.

Next, I would also remind you that it is not illegal to have a monopoly. It is only illegal if you abuse a monopoly in any one of a number of ways. Actually, monopolies are a good thing in some cases. For example, in most parts of the U.S., utilities are granted monopolies for electric, water, gas, cable TV, and local phone service. These monopolies are thought by many to be beneficial (though I'm not personally convinced of this).

I would also argue that Microsoft having a near-monopoly in operating systems is a good thing, since it allows nearly all software development resources to be applied to a single platform. The situation would be far worse if there were a number of popular OSs that each needed to be supported. Choice and quality would suffer.

RE: Lol
By Master Kenobi on 9/4/2007 1:41:40 PM , Rating: 1
If we had multiple OSes to support we would end up with something akin to the Console Wars. Games only work on one console, not the others. Gotta buy the right version (Disk) for your particular console, and there are variations between them because of the limitations/advantages of the platforms themselves.....

Yea forget that shit, Console competition is annoying as hell already, I prefer to keep the PC market similar.

RE: Lol
By TomZ on 9/4/2007 2:26:09 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly right, the situation is the same. In the console world, you have a choice of hardware, which led to splintering of the software, which makes it harder to run any software of your choice.

With the PC market, all the hardware is converged to a common platform (very little choice) and a common OS (very little choice), but this yields a lot of choice where it is important - the application software. After all, the reason for having a computer is for running application software. The operating system and hardware are more of a "don't care" as long as they support the requirements of the applications you want to run. So with the near-monopoly, you have the choice where it is most useful to have it. That is a good situation.

RE: Lol
By Verran on 9/4/2007 2:11:23 PM , Rating: 2
So, to summarize...

It is your belief that Microsoft is a monopoly because 80%+ of its users are unaware of its competitors (of which there are many)?

So clearly, an uneducated consumer base is Microsoft's problem? Should MS be required to run ad campaigns for its competitors? Should MS be required to stop development until the others catch up?


Linux and Apple are out there. One can use a PC to its fullest with 100% free software if they so choose. Sure, it'll be harder and it will require more research and patience, but doesn't that just further justify the premium for the simplicity of the Windows experience?

If people don't know about Linux and Apple, that's their problem, not Microsoft's.

RE: Lol
By TomZ on 9/4/2007 2:31:34 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, the argument that Microsoft is at fault because most people don't know there are alternatives makes no sense at all.

RE: Lol
By Hacp on 9/4/2007 9:32:43 PM , Rating: 2
There really aren't many alternatives. A majority of hardware and software is for windows. It will be hard to find things for mac, and forget finding linux software at your local CC.

Microsoft fuels this by making it hard for people to open Word Documents with alternative Office Suites, and also by making it hard for people running different OSes to run DirectX games. In the end, I'm sure more people will be more open to Microsoft once it decides, if it ever does, to open up.

RE: Lol
By TomZ on 9/4/2007 11:01:37 PM , Rating: 1
There really aren't many alternatives. A majority of hardware and software is for windows. It will be hard to find things for mac, and forget finding linux software at your local CC.

Now you're really pushing the argument. Are you suggesting there have to be "many alternatives" in order for Microsoft to not be considered evil? Come on, that makes no sense. Linux and Mac are available alternatives, not hard to get, not especially hard to use. Sure, not as many devices supported or apps available, but that's the problem with having just a tiny market share.
Microsoft fuels this by making it hard for people to open Word Documents with alternative Office Suites

Are you sure about that? Microsoft's latest round of Office tools is based on ZIP+XML, both pretty open and easy formats. They also openly published the specifications for the file formats, and submitted them for ECMA and ISO standardization for all to use. In addition, they are also publishing code libraries (including source code) that makes it easier for developers to work with the file format.
also by making it hard for people running different OSes to run DirectX games

What did Microsoft do to "make it hard" for other OSs to run DX games? I think what you really meant is that "Microsoft didn't make it easy for others to implement their design and APIs." In other words, they didn't give code to Apple and Linux devs, at least not so far. Probably they didn't do that because there's not business case for it. That's not the same as "making it hard" for others to use it.
In the end, I'm sure more people will be more open to Microsoft once it decides, if it ever does, to open up.

I don't think so - many people hate others that are successful, especially those who have not achieved the same level of success. It seems to be part of human nature - people either identify with that success themselves, or else they are repelled by it.

RE: Lol
By Strunf on 9/5/2007 3:26:46 AM , Rating: 2
“Microsoft's latest round of Office tools is based on ZIP+XML, both pretty open and easy formats.”
OpenXML is not really open… MS is the one that has the last word and a load of its code is MS programs dependent. Also there’s already an open XML and MS can pretty much join them and contribute to this format, why they don’t do it is beyond my comprehension…
BTW MS failed to get the ISO standard and probably will never get it as it is.

MS didn’t make it hard to others if they wanted DX they made it virtually impossible, other API like OpenGL can work on any OS provided anyone wants it. And you can’t deny that MS not only linked the DX to it’s OS but also to its versions, for instance DX10 only works on Vista when there’s no reason at all for not being used with XP…

“people either identify with that success themselves, or else they are repelled by it.”
That or people have just the feeling of playing a rigged game and get frustrated cause of it…

RE: Lol
By TomZ on 9/5/2007 8:07:33 AM , Rating: 2
LOL, how does Microsoft have the last word with OpenXML? Seems to me that would be at the hands of the ISO workgroup and the people voting on it. In fact, the recent vote for ISO standardization failed, which means some more changes are needed.

I'll respond to the rest later - I'm out of time.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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