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MS on Trial Following seventy-seven grueling days of testimony, Judge Thomas Jackson rendered a finding of fact in the other Trial of the Century, ruling that Microsoft has exploited its unnatural market share and grotesque wealth to crush competitors, to strangle innovation in software development, and to bore consumers with lackluster products for which there are no alternatives and from which there is no escape. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal gloated at a Washington press conference last night that Microsoft "has a monopoly, has used monopoly, and has harmed consumers," just as the US Department of Justice, and about 200 million other people, have suspected all along. "Serious and far-reaching remedies" will be needed to "liberate the information technology industry from Microsoft," he predicted. We understand that to mean a breakup. Ironically, it was Microsoft's "own memos and e-mails" that offered the most damning evidence, he noted. Assistant US Attorney General Joel Klein cited "massive evidence" that Microsoft caused "substantial harm to innovation" and so denied reasonable choices of products to consumers. He characterised the company as a "bottleneck in the market" and prayed aloud that the court decision would "deter other companies from abusing their market power." Yeah, right; like human nature is about to be re-configured by Judge Jackson and the DoJ... Further amusement followed as a gaggle of commentators assembled on the US Courthouse steps to contribute their two cents. Ken Wasch, President of the Software and Information Industry Association -- upon whose board Microsoft sits -- called for a "self-executing remedy" not requiring regulatory oversight. "A conduct-oriented remedy cannot be enforced," he insisted. He meant that Microsoft has to be broken up. Computer and Communication Industry Association President Ed Black agreed. It would be difficult for Microsoft to comply with the spirit of the court findings, he said. The company has demonstrated monopolistic tendencies in its "fundamental approach to business strategy." The Bell breakup led to a "tremendous burst of innovation," he recalled. If Microsoft were to be broken up, we would soon see dynamic growth in the IT industry. It would release "market forces" and chasten Microsoft far more effectively than any regulatory approach could hope to do. There is "no evidence that Microsoft would change its behaviour" under any other circumstances, he concluded. Computing Technology Industry Association Counsel and apparent Microsoft lapdog Lars Liebeler took exception to the tough talk. The court decision is "putting a chill on innovation and competition," he claimed. "Large market share does not necessarily indicate a monopoly. To be a monopoly, you have to abuse that market share." Microsoft Legal Advisor Rick Rule agreed, and puzzled for some minutes over the question of why an ungrateful DoJ "hasn't recognised the dynamism in the IT industry, or how Microsoft has kept its prices low." It is only Microsoft's competitors, not its customers, who are dissatisfied, he insisted. Georgetown law Professor Paul Rothstein, a wannabe Alan Dershowitz and Father Christmas lookalike well-known to American TV viewers for his love of the camera and unique ability to render complex legal arguments as simplistic platitudes, also weighed in on behalf of the Redmond Beast. Microsoft is "ushering in the dawning of a new and wonderful age of computers and the Internet," he gushed. And get this: "Microsoft's customers "have 'voted' by making it such a large and successful company." For penance, he sagaciously recommended that Microsoft be subject to "very minor 'adjustments', and some promises not to do certain things in the future." How terribly cute. But the finest piece of theatre came at the very end, from Microsoft booster and US Senator from Washington State (where else?) Slade Gorton (R), who dared predict not only that the Beast case would reach the US Supreme Court, but that it would achieve vindication there. (The Register has for many years been impressed with the Supreme Court's palpable lack of stupidity, but what do we know?) He hit all the buttons: "When it gets to a higher court, the decision will be different," Gorton vowed. "And a different decision will be better for American consumers, and for American competitiveness overseas." He nearly wore the buttons out, but not quite: "Our worldwide economic success, and the fact that we continue to grow while other nations are suffering recession, is due to the dynamics of a highly competitive software and computer economy." We were ready to cry. Almost. ® Complete Register Trial coverage

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