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Microsoft, Partners Probed Over Bribery Claims

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

Microsoft 137

c0lo writes "U.S. federal authorities are examining Microsoft's involvement with companies and individuals that allegedly paid bribes to overseas government officials in exchange for business. The United States Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have both opened preliminary investigations into the bribery allegations involving Microsoft in China, Italy and Romania. The China allegations were first shared with United States officials last year by an unnamed whistle-blower who had worked with Microsoft in the country, according to the person briefed on the inquiry. The whistle-blower said that a Microsoft official in China directed the whistle-blower to pay bribes to government officials to win business deals. U.S. government investigators are also reviewing whether Microsoft had a role in allegations that resellers offered bribes to secure software deals with Romania's Ministry of Communications. In Italy, Microsoft's dealings with consultants that specialize in customer-loyalty programs are under scrutiny, with allegations that Microsoft's Italian unit used such consultants as vehicles for lavishing gifts and trips on Italian procurement officials in exchange for government business. In a blog post Tuesday afternoon, John Frank, a vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft, said the company could not comment about continuing investigations. Mr. Frank said it was not uncommon for such government reviews to find that the claims were without merit. Somehow, given the way OOXML became a standard, it wouldn't surprise me if it were an actual fire that caused this smoke."

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Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226237)

The China allegations were first shared with United States officials last year by an unnamed whistle-blower who had worked with Microsoft in the country

I don't know who this "whistle blower" was (likely a government official who they didn't bribe well enough), but EVERY company that does business in China bribes. It's more than a way of life there, it's absolutely ubiquitous. The only reason you don't have to pay bribes to breathe there is because no government official has found a way to extract them yet (and they would if at all possible). To do business there, you have to start with the knowledge that the whole goddamn country is built on two things: bribes and lies. And if you're lucky, a generous enough bribe MIGHT get you SOME of the truth every now and then. It's worse than India and Russia combined.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226321)

EVERY large company that does business ANYWHERE bribes.

ftfy

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (2)

boristdog (133725) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226349)

Exactly. Even small businesses in the USA. Been there, done that.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226511)

Don't hate the player, hate the game!

the only way they can compete is to play by (most of) the same rules as the competition.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226721)

EVERY large company that does business ANYWHERE bribes.

Baloney. I have run my own business in the USA for more than twenty years. I have never paid a bribe. Not once. I have never been asked for a bribe either. If I ever was, the first thing I would do is report it to the police.

I have also lived and worked in China, and have some employees there today. Although I have paid bribes ("facilitation fees") there, they are becoming much less common. China is trying to clean up their act, and a more "rule-based", transparent China is in everyone's best interest.

The most common bribes paid in China today are not business bribes, but migrant workers trying to bribe their way around the Hukou System [wikipedia.org] in order to send their children to public schools. The Hukou system is a form of feudalism that bonds workers to the land. Under Mao, it was used to ban all internal movement of people. Today, people are allowed to migrate, but they surrender most of their legal rights when they do so. Abolition of the Hukou would probably do more to improve human rights than any other single change in the world.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226777)

I have never paid a bribe.

and

Although I have paid bribes ("facilitation fees") there,

made the rest of your post worthless

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226961)

You are a complete idiot who is incapable of comprehending the English language.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226979)

I have never paid a bribe.

and

Although I have paid bribes ("facilitation fees") there,

made the rest of your post worthless

It's obvious that the first statement is an inferred "I have never paid a bribe in the US" while the second statement is talking about the state of things in China.

Either a very bad attempt at trolling, or a reading comprehension failure on your part.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (2)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226989)

The subject including the statement about not paying bribes was referring to the US. Remaining paragraphs are about China. WTF do people learn in school today? No, really? Why can't you grasp the basics of your own language? Sadly you are not unique in your inability to perform basic reading comprehension tasks. Learn what a paragraph is, and how they are used.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227097)

WTF do people learn in school today?

That they are special and should get what they deserve regardless of how hard they work? ;)

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227505)

Sadly true. I heard a stat on the radio this morning that 80% of the people graduating from NYC are illiterate. Since the source was Rush Limbaugh I would have fact checked that if it was a different stat. This one, I have no doubts as to it being correct.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227115)

Americans pay bribes all the time; the practice is called "tipping".

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227267)

Yes, waiters should be quite happy with the $2.10 /hour they make.

You do realize that many tipped services pay quite a bit lower, because theyre essentially commission-based?

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43228781)

And that shouldn't be legal.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (1)

supervillainsf (820395) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226341)

Yup, it's why the whole "expediter" industry exists - to isolate American business from the "bad things" while still being able to operate in countries where you can't even get the most basic permits without money being passed under the table.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (4, Informative)

mc6809e (214243) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226445)

I don't know who this "whistle blower" was (likely a government official who they didn't bribe well enough), but EVERY company that does business in China bribes. It's more than a way of life there, it's absolutely ubiquitous.

It's not just China, either.

And calling this "bribery" isn't always correct. "Extortion" is probably just as a appropriate at times.

Western multinationals can't do business in most parts of the world (and even US companies in parts of Europe) without some local official demanding money up front to make sure important documents like applications for permits don't "go missing", or that so-and-so's brother on some commission can be "advised" to make the right decision -- the implication being that you'll be held up if you don't pay up.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (3, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226733)

Yep.

I volunteered in Ghana for several months, and saw corruption on a daily basis:

I can build that new room cheap and in a month... but it'd really be better if you pay twice as much to buy this good concrete (from my brother) rather than that crappy concrete that falls apart (when mixed ignoring the directions).

Your visa's still a week away from expiration, but even though it's not written anywhere, there's a $25 fine for not renewing it two weeks in advance. Yes, I collect the fee personally, as a agent of the government. Cash only.

Sure, you can take this taxi to that village, but there's a $5 fee for each bag, and each pocket.

Yeah, that other guy bought a machete for $40, but this identical one is my best! It's $200.

From the stories I've heard from others, the way for Westerners to do business in Africa is to first set a budget for a project, then find a local as a project manager, with the agreement that anything left in the budget goes into his pocket.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (2)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227873)

With regard the second one (visa and fee), I suggest asking for a receipt.
With the third one (taxi), just walk away, find another taxi.
With the fourth one (machete), just walk away; the person will probably call you back. You might not get the $40 price (white man tax) but you should be able to get it down to $60 or so.

OK, I can't speak for Ghana, but I think that just walking away is a good option in almost any case like the ones you mentioned (where you have other options anyway, which is obviously not the case with the govt.).

With regards actual bribery to government officials, I don't have much advice.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (2)

number17 (952777) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226773)

As one Former US Senator put it, lobbying is "not legalized bribery, it's legalized extortion." And it's not extortion by companies, but extortion by politicians.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120406/18051618415/is-lobbying-closer-to-bribery-extortion.shtml [techdirt.com]

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (3, Insightful)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227277)

And calling this "bribery" isn't always correct. "Extortion" is probably just as a appropriate at times.

Or, in the US, where it's called "campaign contributions" and "lobbying."

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226481)

Not just that.. it's a have-your-pie-and-eat-it-too approach in China and India. Every company involved in a bidding process is probably asked to give a 'standard' palm-greasing or you're out of the bidding process no matter what. And once the process plays itself out bribery investigations can ensue and the government will fine you, and make money from you.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0, Troll)

jhoegl (638955) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226529)

Cool cool...
So this is why I pay extortion amounts of money for an OS that sucks balls every other release?
Or how about my business paying for CALs on stupid shit that should come with the OS/Software I am working with?

I am supposed to be paying for a better product and product updates, not to line the pockets of some jackass intent on jackassery.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226595)

"So this is why I pay extortion amounts of money for an OS that sucks balls every other release?"

No, not at all. You pay those extortionate amounts of money because you are unable or unwilling to "Just say "NO!"" I paid for three legitimate installations of that company's operating systems. Then, I found alternatives. Yeah, it takes a little bit of work, but it's not that hard.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (2)

David_Hart (1184661) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227131)

"So this is why I pay extortion amounts of money for an OS that sucks balls every other release?"

No, not at all. You pay those extortionate amounts of money because you are unable or unwilling to "Just say "NO!"" I paid for three legitimate installations of that company's operating systems. Then, I found alternatives. Yeah, it takes a little bit of work, but it's not that hard.

It is that hard... or more people would be doing it...

Apple keeps telling us that it's all about the apps. Well, Windows still has all of the apps, games, productivity software, financial software, etc. OSX does have some of these apps, but you are severely limited in choice. As far as games, Windows is "still the only game in town"...

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227731)

It is that hard... or more people would be doing it...

No, it's not hard, the reason more people aren't doing it is because Windows isn't that bad, changing is easy but there's no value in changing.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226571)

The China allegations were first shared with United States officials last year by an unnamed whistle-blower who had worked with Microsoft in the country

I don't know who this "whistle blower" was ...

Someone whose whistle was not blown well enough, it seems.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (1)

joeflies (529536) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226669)

The whistleblower was either working for Microsoft or on Microsoft's behalf.

"a Microsoft official in China directed the whistle-blower to pay bribes to government officials to win business deals"

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227089)

In China, that's called a "facilitator" or "expediter" (aka, a local who deals with bribes). And if one is ratting you out, it's because someone "encouraged" him to do it (likely either a government official who threatened him or another company that bribed him).

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226727)

Somebody shoot the whistleblower into the face !and! every other investigator,
lawyer or other court officer over this.

BRIBES make the world go around. I can let you have something extraordinary outside the rules
If you do something for me. Let's hold on to that, one day a bribe may save you and your family's
lives.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (2)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227037)

Your post is exactly why the US bars people from bribing foreign officials. You won't be in the kind of position where a bribe will save the lives of loved ones if they aren't expecting to be paid off. Chances are good that if they were wanting to just kill the people that they'd do it, if they're asking for bribe money to help, chances are good that money is the motivating factor.

The US is one of the better countries in terms of prosecuting their own citizens for bribing foreign officials. The main hope we have for eliminating third world poverty is eliminating bribery as an acceptable means of getting things done. It's no coincidence that the worst countries for bribery are also the ones with the worst economies over all. Compared with that, the US has no corruption worth mentioning.

If that is so (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226751)

then we can only happily conclude Microsoft has fallen out of grace.
This means the beginning of the end.
Bye bye Billy.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226771)

I don't know who this "whistle blower" was (likely a government official who they didn't bribe well enough), but EVERY company that does business in China bribes. It's more than a way of life there, it's absolutely ubiquitous. The only reason you don't have to pay bribes to breathe there is because no government official has found a way to extract them yet (and they would if at all possible). To do business there, you have to start with the knowledge that the whole goddamn country is built on two things: bribes and lies. And if you're lucky, a generous enough bribe MIGHT get you SOME of the truth every now and then. It's worse than India and Russia combined.

Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 [wikipedia.org] , paying bribes to officials overseas is a violation of American law if it's done by a U.S. business. While there are a few exceptions to this ("facilitation payments" for non-discretionary bureaucratic work, for example) they are very narrow and often fail to cover the wide range of situations where real-world foreign officials demand handouts. The result is that it's often illegal to be the victim of a shakedown if you're doing business overseas. Now it's certainly possible that Microsoft is as much perpetrator as victim in this case, but the FCPA is far too broad and really needs to be substantially revisited.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227005)

the FCPA is far too broad and really needs to be substantially revisited.

I strongly disagree. As an American, I am proud that my country has provided moral leadership in this area. The effect of the FCPA is not always negative on American businesses. Citizens of other countries know about the FCPA, and there is a perception that if a contract goes to an American company, that the bidding process was more likely to be clean. Also, American companies don't just passively accept losing business to less ethically constrained competitors. They have an incentive to work for cleaner processes. When they lose, they often raise a stink, and publicize the corruption. Corruption is still common in many countries, but Transparency International [wikipedia.org] and other corruption indexes [wikipedia.org] show that we are moving in the right direction. FCPA is a reason for that.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227785)

america has just changed the names of them, they are now called "lobbying" and "campaign contributions", these are all just bribes, payoffs to politicians to swing the government to make laws in their favor. but ignorance is bliss for you i see.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227059)

And with good reason. The only way these practices stop is if companies stop doing business like that. As American companies, they generally have options of where to take their business that local companies don't.

The only problem here is that there aren't enough countries signing on to these sorts of initiatives. Corruption has no place in civilized society and ultimately, foreign companies usually have a lot more money and influence over them than domestic companies would.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226801)

which sounds nice until you realize that US laws expressly prohibit it, whether it's the way things work over there or not.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (1)

Looker_Device (2857489) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227127)

Shall we put you in charge of arresting the CEO of every single company that has every done business in China?

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (4, Insightful)

juancn (596002) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226833)

It is pervasive in many places. Since the US frowns upon US companies bribing foreign officials, there are many consulting firms local to the country in question that take care of the bribes. These are never mentioned explicitly, so the US company doesn't actually pay the bribes, it just pays the consulting firm. And the consulting firm takes care of the bribes. That way you have deniability.

Since the consulting firm is out of reach from the SEC et.al. discovery is a bitch and the cases cannot normally be pursued (unless you get one of the officials to testify, which is at least difficult).

So Cuba's government does what it does. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227167)

However, you will ban companies from operating in the USA if they do business with Cuba.

So, deal with Cuba (against the law in the USA): BANNED!
Bribe the Chinese government (against the law in the USA): Well, what the hell, let them do it everyone does, and everyone has to!

At least here, to their props, the USA government is at least trying to be consistent.

It just looks like the idiots don't want it to be consistent.

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227221)

No they don't. I know tons of foreign companies here in China and nobody bribes anybody. This is a fallacy held by people who have just read about China from horridly biased Western news reports. Hey, don't believe me, read this from an attorney specializing in China law for foreign companies:

"One of the things I have always found troubling about Westerners doing business in emerging market countries is that they sometimes take an almost perverse pride in discussing payoffs to government officials. It is as though their having paid a bribe is a symbol of their international sophistication and insider knowledge. Yet, countless times when I am told of the bribe, I know the very same thing could almost certainly have been accomplished without a bribe."
--Dan Harris, chinalawblog.com [chinalawblog.com]

You should go read his blog. It's highly informative and is chock full of real-life situations. If you are stupid enough to bribe a government official and it becomes critical to your business, you're totally screwed whenever he retires or goes to jail for corruption (the only two possible outcomes to your relationship).

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227525)

It's (corruption in China) worse than India and Russia combined

Given that the Chinese economy is greater than Indian and Russia combined, are you suggesting India and Russia should be copying China?

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227629)

The America allegations were first shared with Chinese officials last year by an unnamed whistle-blower who had worked with Microsoft in the country

I don't know who this "whistle blower" was (likely a government official who they didn't bribe well enough), but EVERY company that does business in America bribes. It's more than a way of life there, it's absolutely ubiquitous. The only reason you don't have to pay bribes to breathe there is because no government official has found a way to extract them yet (and they would if at all possible). To do business there, you have to start with the knowledge that the whole goddamn country is built on two things: bribes and lies. And if you're lucky, a generous enough bribe MIGHT get you SOME of the truth every now and then. It's worse than India and Russia combined.

Do I get modded Insightful as well?
Parent up certainly said nothing more than I did?

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43228649)

The China allegations were first shared with United States officials last year by an unnamed whistle-blower who had worked with Microsoft in the country (and is now employed by Google ), according to the person briefed on the inquiry.

FTFT

Re:Hate to defend M$ in any way, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43228877)

I'm a simple man, so instead of a long winded treatise, I'll just come right out and say it:

POT, KETTLE, BLACK

Biased submission (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226325)

"Somehow, given the way OOXML became a standard, it wouldn't surprise me if it were an actual fire that caused this smoke."

Yea, care to back that accusation up? You're posting borderline slander, your link doesn't even point to anything except for a bunch of whiny sore losers.

I can back that accusation up (4, Informative)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226567)

August 31, 2007

Sweden's OOXML vote declared invalidgust 31, 2007

The Swedish Standards Institute has declared its recent vote in favor of Microsoft's Office Open XML format invalid. It means that Sweden will probably abstain from an important upcoming international vote on whether to make the format a standard.

The reason given by SIS was not the controversial circumstances surrounding the vote, in which
Microsoft was found to have offered companies "incentives" if they voted in favor of OOXML. Instead, SIS cited a technicality, saying proper procedures had not been followed.

http://www.infoworld.com/t/platforms/swedens-ooxml-vote-declared-invalid-013

Re:I can back that accusation up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227495)

The specification itself has to be invalid. How can 5000+ pages not have errors? Just look at the 43MB PDF blob [ecma-international.org] (link on the page, not a direct download).

Re:I can back that accusation up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227887)

Microsoft was found to have offered companies "incentives" if they voted in favor of OOXML.

So how are they not naming and shaming the companies that have taken these "incentives"? Offering a bribe is one thing but taking a bribe or asking for a bribe is far worse! These are the people that compound the problem, if there weren't corrupt people taking/asking for bribes then it would be pointless to offer them.

The people in charge of making these decisions for standards bodies have got to be made to stop taking and/or asking for bribes, that's the only way to stop this! Even if you get Microsoft to stop paying bribes some other company will step in knowing that these officials are morally corrupt and easily bought off.

Re:Biased submission (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226599)

No - it is opinion. And based on the fact that the "committees" were stuffed with MS paying for membership, holding meetings in rooms too small for all the members, employees misrepresenting themselves...

Re:Biased submission (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227985)

No - it is opinion. And based on the fact that the "committees" were stuffed with MS paying for membership, holding meetings in rooms too small for all the members, employees misrepresenting themselves...

So who are the corrupt officials that allowed this to happen?! They are the problem, in China bribes are the cost of doing business because that's the way the system works in China and it's absolutely no different with these standards bodies, they are easily bought off because they are corrupt.

Re:Biased submission (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226637)

"You're posting borderline slander,"

He said: "Life on the border is a little bit rough, "If you're gonna love me, you gotta be tough. "Beyond the law, anything goes, "When you're livin' on the edge of Mexico." I heard all he said but I didn't believe, Not till I tried to keep him close to me. He rode away in a cloud of dust, Chasin' Laredo and Lady Luck. His bags were full of who knows what? I knew what I had to do. Girls ride horses too. I rode all day, trackin' him down. Spent the night on dangerous ground. Smellin' the smoke of the distant fire, Feelin' the flame of my desires. Well, nothin' in the desert is what it seems, I ran up numbers in my dreams. He rode away in a cloud of dust, Chasin' Laredo and Lady Luck. His bags were full of who knows what? I knew what I had to do. Girls ride horses too. I crossed the river as the sun came up. Drank his Tequila from a silver cup. Traded his bags for a sack of gold, An' got a little taste of Mexico. If he's gonna love me, he's gotta get tough. Life on the border is a little bit rough. He rode away in a cloud of dust, Chasin' Laredo and Lady Luck. His bags were full of who knows what? I did what I had to do. Oh, he rode away in a cloud of dust, Chasin' Laredo and Lady Luck. His bags were full of who knows what? I did what I had to do. Girls ride horses too. Girls ride horses too. Oh, girls ride horses too. I did what I had to do. Oh, girls ride horses too. I did what I had to do.

Whistleblower eh? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226327)

Shouldn't we detain the whistleblower indefinitely and call them a traitor? Oh wait...this information hepls the government potentially collect a fine. Nevermind...move along.

Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (4, Insightful)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226329)

Considering how frequently the MS sales people seem to present a new option with lower licensing prices whenever a city or governmental agency is about to jump ship and get on board with Linux, isn't that sudden presentation of huge discounts almost like a bribe? Yes, i know that a bribe goes to a separate person in order for a transaction to go through, but when you've got to discount your prices that much for people to buy your stuff, that doesn't seem like a good sign!
.
And before some idiot goes the other way and sez "gnu/linux must suck real bad since the only way they get people to take it is to give it away for free!", realize that the concept of Free software (with liberty) being free (of price and cost) is secondary to the freedom it gives to the end-user and the things that come back to the developer(s) with GNU-GPL-licensed software. The freedom is an inherent essence to free software. It's not priced at $zero because people don't want it. It's priced at $zero because the community of developers believes in giving away and sharing the fruits of their labor to the community of the world

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226427)

Discounts != Bribes, even if it's Microsoft offering them. It's called being competitive.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226523)

Whoever -1 this is obviously a freetard who has no idea how business function with each other. If your pizza place discounted your pie because you were thinking of going to another pizza shop, would that be a bribe? Probably only if it's Microsoft pizza, right?

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227861)

Whoever posted this is obviously a capitalistic pig who has no idea that "business as usual" where corporations leverage their market share to win better discounts is a form of corruption and breaks their precious fairy-land of the free-market and makes a barrier to entry for disruptive forces from competing with the establishment.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226477)

No, fanboy. Its given away for no dollar amounts because the entire community expects someone else to do their work for them. Linux is in no way free, contrary to how you like to warp the usage of the word. It comes with some very well defined restrictions, and those restrictions tend to attempt to infect everything around them, which is a fairly high cost to everyone who doesn't thinks they can live in a fantasy hippie commune.

Its rather hipocritcal and ignorant of you to pretend pushing your political agenda is different than Microsoft pushing theirs. The reality of it is you don't give a flying fuck about 'open' so much as 'I don't have to pay for it'. And so does 99% of the rest of the 'free software' community. Pretending its about being 'open' is just a farce used to push your agenda via deception. If you cared about actual freedom, you wouldn't be fanboying for a license organization.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226671)

LOL, this sounds like every troll I've ever heard.

The GPL is not infectious. Valve is legally deploying Steam onto Linux (using the Linux API which is GPL) without having to release any of their code.

Quit spouting the FUD. The majority of developers in the free/open source software community do it because they feel that it is the superior method, not because they're hippies.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226827)

Valve is legally deploying Steam onto Linux (using the Linux API which is GPL) without having to release any of their code.

While Valve indeed shows that GPL isn't infectious, it actually proves the GP's other points, fellow AC

On one hand, bringing it to Linux is welcomed by some, as it will promote the popularity of Linux. This supports the GP's point that free platforms needing "other people to do the work for them". Linux and free software can't be attractive enough, you need proprietary software to bring in people.

On the other hand, there's a segment in the community that swears off DRM due to its freedom restricting nature, and on that basis swear off Valve and Steam. The fact other segments of the community is giving Valve a pass proves the GP's other point that people are only pretending to care about freedom.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227141)

Valve doesn't prove that. The GPL has never applied to the interface. Now, if Valve includes GPL source into their client and doesn't have to license the whole client as GPL, then you'll have a point.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227133)

This is just plain ignorant. The GPL has never applied to the Linux API, doing so would make absolutely no sense. It applies to the source files, if Valve isn't changing any of those files, then there's no point in releasing that source code as they can just point to the place where they got it from, as it's the exact same source they're using.

Now, were they to include actual Linux source into the Steam Linux client, that would be a completely different matter, they would have to provide all that source to anybody that wants it. But, that's a completely different matter.

Then again, you're a troll, so who really cares what you think about it.

It applies to the Linux code. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227247)

And the parent poster was responding to someone CLAIMING that the linux api would infect your code with GPL.

So you should be calling out the MS troll (he's got loads of form on trolling pro-MS/Anti-GPL bullshit every chance he gets and only gets more and more insane as time goes by) not the parent poster.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43228345)

This is just plain ignorant. The GPL has never applied to the Linux API, doing so would make absolutely no sense.

Hilarious that you call them 'ignorant' and 'troll' when you clearly haven't heard of EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL, which is a method of applying the GPL to exported Linux API functions.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226705)

How the hell did this troll get modded up??

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (2)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226941)

re: your statement "The reality of it is you don't give a flying fuck about 'open' so much as 'I don't have to pay for it'."
.
Hey, big boy, don't bother trying to put words in my mouth. The reality of it is that you have no fucking idea what's in my mind. What is in my mind is the freedom of the software, not that it is free of cost. The fact that it is free of cost, and unencumbered by the idiocracy of the BSA (boy scouts or software, take your pick) trying to beat down your door to check to see if you've got
(a) - valid licenses
(b) - the correcto number of licenses
(c) - a way for them to anally probe your hardware and software frequently in perpetuity to make sure you keep dancing when they tell you to
is worth a lot more to me than the useless crap that other people are willing to pay for.
.
You know that the internet you're using right now to post your comments on? "You didn't build that!" (ha ha ha) In fact, Microsoft didn't even see the internet coming 'til it started passing them by and Trumpet-WinSock gave people a way to do dial-up access to TCP-IP. Seriously, look it up. Microsoft must have thought that the internet was going to be a fad, right?
.
So please don't try to read my mind or put words in my mouth or voice opinions for me. And also, sharpen your reading skills. This person here whom you tried to denigrate as a "fanboy" is a girl. ;>p
.
And if you don't want Linux and GNU to "infect you", buddy-boy, nobody in the world is forcing you to use it. (and you probably have enough infections as it is.... ooh, your mean-ness is pretty contagious!)

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227409)

oh, so you had the operation then?

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227461)

Actually Microsoft thought the internet would fail. If you remember, Ballmer made a fool of himself at Windows 95 release because it only included NetBUI protocols. I'm too lazy to go dig up quotes, but they are there. Something along the lines of no business would ever use something that everyone else would be able to access. It was not until Windows 95B that MS shipped their own (albeit pathetic for many reasons) TCP/IP drivers with Windows, and it was not installed by default. If memory serves correctly, Win98 first rev did not have TCP/IP drivers installed by default either.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43228101)

You know that the internet you're using right now to post your comments on? "You didn't build that!" (ha ha ha) In fact, Microsoft didn't even see the internet coming 'til it started passing them by and Trumpet-WinSock gave people a way to do dial-up access to TCP-IP. Seriously, look it up. Microsoft must have thought that the internet was going to be a fad, right?

This is such ancient baggage you're carrying around. Microsoft played a part as did many others in bringing the world to the state it's in now. Open your mind a little.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227111)

Wait. Did a troll just call someone a fanboi? In addition to the inaccurate description of the GPL, you also have a false statement. Its given away for no dollar amounts because the entire community expects someone else to do their work for them. Wait, what? So Linus expects all his Kernel development to be done by someone else? That is absolutely wrong. It's not even an exaggeration, it's a flat out lie.

The rest of your rant just backs your trolling MS Fanboi position. Keep it to yourself.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43228391)

Stop making sense, shill.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226503)

And before some idiot goes the other way and sez "gnu/linux must suck real bad since the only way they get people to take it is to give it away for free!", realize that the concept of Free software (with liberty) being free (of price and cost) is secondary to the freedom it gives to the end-user and the things that come back to the developer(s) with GNU-GPL-licensed software. The freedom is an inherent essence to free software. It's not priced at $zero because people don't want it. It's priced at $zero because the community of developers believes in giving away and sharing the fruits of their labor to the community of the world

...and what does that say about people who choose BSD-style licenses over GPL? I'd say you described it pretty well, but for GPL with the added benefit "believes in giving away and sharing the fruits of their labor to the community that also wants to give everything to the community". It's similar to those churches that have a dress code or membership price. "Sure, we'll help you out, assuming you're going to do what's in our interests"

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226527)

It's priced at $zero because the community of developers believes in giving away and sharing the fruits of their labor to the community of the world

And some companies/developers charge for software because that's the model that makes sense for them. And some companies/developers give stuff away for free but make ad-revenue because that's the model that makes sense for them. All are valid models (including open source) -- get over yourself -- discounts don't imply a company in trouble.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226621)

You know why you are wrong you still persist in your belief.

That is because you don't understand what is going on.

There is nothing wrong with offering discounts. It is common behavior. Do you think a store is doing something wrong because they have a sale? If so you are a fool. Discounts - real and fake (i.e. raise the price by 11% then offer 10% 'discount') are there for a reason - people like to to think they are getting a deal and sometimes it is reasonable to give them one. Particularly if for example their are large costs per sale and someone buys in bulk (i.e. saving you those large marketing costs).

A bribe on the other hand is very different. Instead of lowering the cost, it raises the cost. It is a crime not against the person paying the bribe, but against the organization that hired the briber. That is, when Ford bribes a Banana Republic official to buy 1971 Pintos, instead of Dodge Chargers, it is the Banana Republic that is getting ripped off and Chrysler not Ford.

Because the Banana Republic official is not doing his job - to pick the best car, as opposed to doing his job.

When I pay you to do your job wrong, that is a problem. There is nothing wrong with giving someone a discount.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (1)

DaveGod (703167) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226639)

No that is not almost (or at all, in any way, shape or form) like a bribe. It is completely and fundamentally different from being a bribe, for the reason you state.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227067)

You are indeed correct, and I was pretty sure I thought that way too (which is why I included that line of reasoning). It just seems underhanded how they try to undercut or lowball the price when things aren't going their way. That sort of low-ball bidding is a different kind of corruption than bribery. I was trying to see if there was a way to see it as a form of bribery style of corruption, and I can see now that there's probably not a valid way to equate the two. Still seems bad though, IMHO. Thanks for the even-handed tone and reply. :>)

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43228003)

"I was trying to see if there was a way to see it as a form of bribery style of corruption, and I can see now that there's probably not a valid way to equate the two."

Dissembling: 1.adoption of false appearance: the creation or adoption of a false appearance in order to conceal facts, feelings, or intentions.
You trolled, and you got called out.

Re:Are huge discounts almost like bribes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43228035)

"It just seems underhanded how they try to undercut or lowball the price when things aren't going their way. That sort of low-ball bidding is a different kind of corruption than bribery."
What? You've never heard of discounts before? You think discounts are some sort of tactic invented by Microsoft? Damn, it's unbearable to see someone allow their hate to dominate their rationality so utterly and completely.

No shit? Really? I'm shocked ... (0)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226417)

While this sort of qualifies as 'for nerds', I fail to see how something that anyone with an ounce of common sense and passing interest in current technology events would consider this news.

Re:No shit? Really? I'm shocked ... (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226987)

Once in awhile it's nice to get an official record of Microsoft breaking the law and pulling stupid stunts.

That way the MS fanboys and shills can't come along in a later conversation where the subject may come up, and then screech "prove it!" whenever some poor soul mentions that Microsoft is one highly corrupt pack of mofos.

Re:No shit? Really? I'm shocked ... (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227397)

It's not news but it explains why a discrete amount of people subjected themselves to windows stuff instead of doing the rational thing: go mac before 2005 and go linux afterwards.

Bribery in Romania ? You don't say :) (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226447)

FYI: Microsoft Romania has an official budget line for "greasing decision factors" and it's so widely known that they are "very generous" that everyone expects them to bribe.

Posting as AC, from Romania :-)

Re:Bribery in Romania ? You don't say :) (1)

Psyborgue (699890) | about a year and a half ago | (#43228363)

Mod parent as informative. I lived in Romania for five years. If you wanted something done, you needed to pay a bribe, even for things as mundane as getting your trash picked up properly. Even for things like medical treatment. That's how it was in the late 90s, and based on how saturated the society was in corruption, i seriously doubt anything has changed. It's just the culture. You could blame the culture on a reaction to the bureaucratic bullshit created by communism, but there was still a lot of corruption before. It was really bad when I was there, during the 90s, shortly after the fall of Ceausescu. I remember watching a TV report about a guy thrown off the back of an ambulance onto the street because he had no money. Once my cable was cut because we failed to properly bribe the cable installer (we paid the company, though). All this being said, the people are really nice once you get used to their quirks. They're oddities are kind of charming in a way, like the Ferengi. Once you speak the language the taxi drivers (and just about everybody else) will usually stop trying to rip you off.

Simple (5, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226449)

The issue here is that the US government is not getting (enough) bribes. This probe will make sure that gets rectified.

Re:Simple (1)

deaton (616663) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226603)

Exactly. That would be the only reason U.S. federal authorities even care about this, it's not like they have any jurisdiction in those countries.

Bribery in China and Italy? (1)

hsmith (818216) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226463)

Shut the front door! I'd never believe it.

I thought everyone pretty much knew that bribery is just a cost of doing business in the People's Republic? (Well, of course, in the States too)

How things work in Italy (5, Informative)

YA_Python_dev (885173) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226607)

In Italy, like the rest of the EU, public money must usually be spent through transparent public contracts awarded to the lowest bidder that satisfies all requirements.

To make sure that Linux or LibreOffice don't cause problems the trick is very simple: they put e.g. "Windows 7" or "Microsoft Office 2010" in the requirements and pretend to have open competitive bids by comparing offers from different resellers for Microsoft software.

Another common trick is to let the situation degenerate until it becomes an emergency. At that point the law allows contracts to be awarded directly to a company arbitrarly chosen by a politician. This explains "emergencies" that last decades like the garbages crisis in Naples [wikipedia.org] .

Re:How things work in Italy (1)

anarxia (651289) | about a year and a half ago | (#43228309)

That's baby corruption. The real pros make their competitors do the work through cut-throat sub-contracting and they get a commission. Either that or It's possible to be the cheapest yet you complete the project by sub-contracting all of it to the same people you were competing against in the first place.

Incredible! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226519)

Microsoft throws bribes all around to win software contracts?

In other news, the new Pope is Catholic.

Here in the US of A we call that (1)

chiefmojorising (114811) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226561)

lobbying.

time to bribe the US Federal authorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226565)

watch how quickly this story gets buried... heh

MS caught red-handed bribing before (2)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226591)

August 31, 2007

Sweden's OOXML vote declared invalid

The Swedish Standards Institute has declared its recent vote in favor of Microsoft's Office Open XML format invalid. It means that Sweden will probably abstain from an important upcoming international vote on whether to make the format a standard.

The reason given by SIS was not the controversial circumstances surrounding the vote, in which
Microsoft was found to have offered companies "incentives" if they voted in favor of OOXML. Instead, SIS cited a technicality, saying proper procedures had not been followed.

http://www.infoworld.com/t/platforms/swedens-ooxml-vote-declared-invalid-013

Story is obviously untrue! (1)

notknown86 (1190215) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226653)

Here's how it ACTUALLY went down:

Ballmer walks into room, wielding chair.

"You know, there's a lot of not-nice things that can happen when you standardize around a non-Microsoft office format..."

Re:Story is obviously untrue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226927)

Here's how it ACTUALLY went down: Ballmer walks into room, wielding chair. "You know, there's a lot of not-nice things that can happen when you standardize around a non-Microsoft office format..."

If you spell Microsoft with a $ symbol next time you will have ticked all the cliche boxes.

Countries list (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226755)

You can include the Bulgaria in this list too ...

stunned (1)

Dresden Sparrow (2850503) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226901)

I would be stunned if this did not happen. What about the current Microsoft management and behavior would indicate that they would not pay bribes for business? In fact, is that not pretty much their entire business model at this point?

Bribery is how big business works now. (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about a year and a half ago | (#43226931)

If you get big enough, governments all over the world will expect kickbacks as the cost of doing business in their country. This happens in every country including the United States. The difference between the US and China is that our government spends a lot of time and effort dressing up bribes in the form of legislation and enforcement, while China doesn't see the point on providing anything but the most shallow cover for such activities.

If you are not prepared to play ball with lining the pockets of the local government officials, be prepared to have all kinds of regulations and fines passed against you while your competitors are given subsidies and tax exemptions.

So anal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227039)

Hope it was an anal probe done by aliens!

So they were lying, (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227163)

When those countries said "You couldn't pay me to use that Microsoft crap."

Because in the US. bribes go by other names (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227663)

We know how to get things done in the US. It takes a lot of money. Money pays lobbyists and lobbyists channel money to political entities. Money comes in more forms than I can count. A few come in the form of "revolving door" jobs where they get paid a lot for doing nothing.

We don't allow direct bribes in the US. The bribes bust me masked, cloaked, laundered and/or transformed before they make their way to government.

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