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04.05.10

Microsoft’s Violation of the Law Costing Fines in Wisconsin, But Fines Paid Back to Microsoft

Posted in America, Antitrust, Finance at 5:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Summary: Schools in Milwaukee and other cities will receive money after Microsoft broke the law, but whether this compensates for a monopoly earned through crime remains to be debated

Microsoft’s settlement is a bit of an embarrassment in Wisconsin. We previously wrote about it in:

The latest news speaks a great deal about those Microsoft vouchers, which are supposed to reach schools.

The vouchers are part of a second phase of the settlement. The initial 2006 settlement gave vouchers to anyone that bought specific Microsoft products or a computer and had those products installed for use in Wisconsin between Dec. 7, 1993, and April 30, 2003.

The second phase distributes money not claimed in the first phase. A Milwaukee County judge ruled that once all the original plaintiffs were paid, the remaining money should be split between Microsoft and Wisconsin public schools, according to news reports.

Some sources call this “Computer Vouchers”, but we previously saw evidence that such vouchers are useless for Free software because they only encourage more spendings on Microsoft software that costs nothing to produce and further increases dependence on Microsoft.

Having looked at some more newer reports [1, 2] we found that “equipment, software and training” are covered.

A drawn-out legal settlement with Microsoft will reap more than $3.4 million in high-tech funding for Madison public schools, officials said Monday.

It’s welcome news in a district facing an $18.1 million budget hole, even though the windfall comes with restrictions on how the money can be spent, based on what the district’s current technology programs include.

[...]

The funds come from the antitrust class action lawsuit Spence et al. v. Microsoft, which was filed on behalf of Wisconsin government entities, business and consumers, and settled in 2007 for $224 million. Schools and school districts that filed claims will receive nearly $80 million of that in vouchers for equipment, software and training, which are to be directed to schools in which at least a third of students in 2005 came from low-income households.

[...]

The district’s chief information officer, Kurt Kiefer, said priorities include making schools wireless, purchasing mobile technologies for schools, and buying basic display technologies for teachers such as data projectors.

Also new:

These schools ought to move to Free software (snubbing the company which committed the crimes in the first place, rather than buying more from it). According to this, one school district will not use the coupons; rather, it will just cross out something on a piece of paper and allow Microsoft to perpetuate its monopoly with intangible goods:

The School District of Beloit will be receiving about $2 million in vouchers to buy software from Microsoft as the result of a lawsuit settlement.

Milwaukee gets about a third of that sum and hopefully it won’t spend a dime on Microsoft software.

The influx of funds is substantial – low-income schools in Milwaukee Public Schools will share about $25 million, while the public school districts in Madison, Kenosha and Green Bay will each receive vouchers of more than $3 million to split among their low-income schools.

More here and here

The Unified School District of Antigo has more than $700,000 to spend on technology. The vouchers came Monday as the result of a class-action lawsuit settlement the state had with Microsoft Corp.

This makes it a week old. Some schools will foolishly reward Microsoft using those very same compensation vouchers that were supposed to be Microsoft’s punishment. Why can’t anybody in newspapers/press point out the absurdity of this?

Surely, the likes of IDG just continue to whitewash Microsoft’s history of criminal activity (with federal convictions that cannot be denied, despite Microsoft’s attempts).

Ten years after losing a bitterly contested antitrust browser battle to the U.S. Department of Justice, debate continues as to whether Microsoft was tamed by the legal rebuke or freed to treat it like a speed bump.

The whole article seems to insinuate that Google is the problem (but it should not be about Google) and it even links to Microsoft-sponsored statistics. Typical IDG. So who is left to actually report in an investigative fashion? And what about those absurd vouchers?

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3 Comments

  1. williami said,

    April 5, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Gravatar

    I think this is related: Some months ago, I was talking to the O’keefe Middle School computer class teacher (O’keefe is my middle school, yes, I’m pretty young for a member on this site…) about switching the whole Madison Metropolitan School District (The main school district in Madison, I’ll abbreviate as MMSD when I refer to it later) to free software, about first switching to OpenOffice.org and ODF (There was going to be a MMSD board meeting about OpenOffice.org and ODF, but they never scheduled a date for me), and work up from that, eventually switching to GNU/Linux, and after that, switching the whole of Wisconsin to free software. Anyway, the computer teacher mentioned if I switch MMSD to free software, she thinks it’s likely that M$ would give a big check if the MMSD switches back to their propitary operating system, and M$ giving a 80M dollar check to the Wisconsin schools, reminded me of that conversation. But I hope they spend that money on anything but propitary software…

    your_friend Reply:

    It should be obvious that Microsoft will gain much more than their petty bribes cost them.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    They would be better off with OS ballots.

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