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A year ago: Microsoft spells it out to the judge

All very DoJy indeed

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Last Friday, Microsoft attorney Richard Urowsky neatly summed-up the company's case for the DoJ action hearing in Columbia district court, and from what he said it's now crystal clear where the battle-lines lie. Microsoft contends that the rider it had added to the 1995 consent decree allowing it to integrate features into the operating system gives it carte blanche to build Internet Explorer into Windows 98, and to require that OEMs bundle it. But the logical conclusion to this line of reasoning was pursued by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who asked if that meant that Microsoft applications could be integrated as well. Urowsky first responded that this wouldn't be economical, but when pressed further conceded that technically it could be done, and that it was possible that some parts of the apps could move into the OS. The judge has now retreated to his tent to consider his opinion, but he might do well to consider the extent to which pieces of Microsoft apps are already integrated in the OS, and take a look at the 'innovate, improve, incorporate' overheads Microsoft was showing its customers until quite recently. These make a virtue of the way Microsoft introduces features as applets and utilities, then builds them into the OS, or across the whole Windows 'platform.' Urowsky also tried to head-off Judge Jackson's interest in the US antitrust Sherman Act, pointing out that the consent decree didn't have anything to do with Sherman, so Sherman does not apply in the current case. That's probably correct (although the judge seemed unconvinced), but if Microsoft's case is sustained, then it seems likely that further antitrust action will be pursued by the DoJ. ®

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