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Friday Afternoon, May 15,
Saturday Flash: Microsoft
Talks Break Down
We normally take a break from posting news over the weekend, but
this item is too significant to wait, so we're adding it to the page on
Saturday. According to Reuters, talks between Microsoft and the DoJ have
broken down over what seemed like a relatively easy concession for Microsoft
to make: Allowing vendors to display the image(s) of their choice when
the computer starts up. Which begs the question: Was Microsoft serious
when it came to the table? Was it seeking more publicity? Or was it stalling
as it shipped disks to vendors? We don't know, but we'll doubtless find
out more on Monday.
Continue Through Weekend
Microsoft and the DoJ are continuing to talk through the weekend,
and the outcome will not likely be known until Monday. We'll keep you posted
when and if we hear more.
According to the Seattle Times, the hiatus was the result of frantic
last minute calls from Redmond to Washington, perhaps made by Gates himself.
Attorneys were moments away from filing suit when the postponement was
At the same time, Texas Attorney General Dan Morales was speaking
with Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computers, about antitrust issues. Morales
announced Wednesday that he would not participate in the state AGs' planned
lawsuit, but did join them in negotiations with Microsoft while the suit
was postponed. This hints that the Texas AG could actually go to the negotiating
table as a proponent of Microsoft.
Qwest Aligns With Ameritech
On the heels of an announcement that it will allow US West to resell
its long distance services, Qwest has announced a similar deal with Ameritech.
Both arrangements seem designed to bypass 42 USC 271, the portion
of the 1996
Telecomm Act that requires local carriers to open their markets to
competition before offering long distance service. (Interestingly, at the
same time that it's pursuing the arrangement with Qwest, US West is also
applying to the FCC to offer long distance itself. It claims that it has
opened local markets, but in fact, there is little or no competition in
most of its territory.)
press release on its Web site, Qwest points out several things that
the alliance will offer. But it fails to mention that these same services
are available when one uses most other long distance carriers, too.
Jose Mercury News
for our aggressive ad rates.
Pro-Encryption Group Offers
Americans for Computer Privacy, a well financed lobbying group,
is giving the White House a choice: abandon restraints on encryption or
face a major media blitz.
Gateway has announced plans to revive the Amiga, which has been
passed around from company to company like a hot potato. In the future:
new CPUs, better graphics, and maybe even a UNIX-based OS.
Xerox Sues HP Over Ink Jet
Xerox is suing neighbor HP over several patents related to ink
jet printer technology. The suit may be retaliation for an earlier one
in which HP sought to prevent Xerox from selling HP-compatible laser printer
Court to Intel: Sorry, No
Intel is antsy to have a potentially damaging ruling, which stated
that its CPUs and information about them were an "essential facility,"
overturned. But the company will have to wait its turn to get its day in
court. In the meantime, Intel is enjoined from treating computer maker
Intergraph prejudicially, which seems fair to us. Intel shouldn't be allowed
to run other companies out of business on a whim.
Japanese Embrace Electronic
A Japanese company has come up with gadgets that signal singles
when a potential mate is nearby. The devices, called "Lovegetys," respond
to other similar devices and allow the ground rules of an initial meeting
to be negotiated before the first word is spoken. Given the exceedingly
strong revulsion with which most Japanese greet same-sex alliances, it's
not surprising that the devices cannot be set to make matches with units
of the same "sex." (No word on whether foreign versions of the product
will have an "AC/DC" option.)
Avoiding Another Bad Deal
Dan Gillmor of the Merc warns that if the DoJ, the states, and
Microsoft settle out of court, the result could be as ineffectual as the
1995 Consent Decree which the DoJ signed over a prophetic judge's objections.
Jose Mercury News
Big, Brash Bullies
Tom Steinert-Threlkeld captures the economic Zeitgeist of the late
1990s with this biting commentary on what he perceives -- although he doesn't
say it in so many words -- as the dawn of a new Gilded Age.
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