Feeds

Guilty: judge finds MS has monopoly power, and abuses it

Finds in favour of DoJ on virtually all points

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

MS on Trial In a document issued last night Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson found Microsoft guilty of antitrust law violations, and held that the company unfairly and illegally wielded monopoly power. In unusually strong language, Judge Jackson's 200-plus page finding of facts came down in favour of the Department of Justice's case in virtually all areas. Redmond is still whistling optimistically, but it looks bad. Microsoft legal spinmeister Bill Neukom last night insisted the company still expected to be vindicated in the end, and the current line appears to be that it regards the ruling as merely one stage in a legal process in which it will ultimately triumph. The ruling looks like a massive defeat for Redmond from practically anybody else's viewpoint, of course, but Microsoft almost certainly wrote off its chances of winning this stage of the game a long time ago. But for the trial, Judge Jackson produced an innovation of his own - the split judgement approach he's using will make it very difficult for Microsoft to appeal successfully. His findings of fact, i.e., his take on what has and has not been established during the trial, can only be challenged at appeal if it can be shown that he was clearly in error, and this will be extremely difficult for Microsoft to establish. As it does so, all of the horrible incriminating emails he based his judgement on will come rolling out again. Death by a thousand "snippets," as Microsoft calls them. After yesterday's findings of fact ruling Jackson will next move towards a final verdict which includes remedies. He intends the period between these two mileposts to be used to concentrate the minds of the two parties and to maximise the chances of a negotiated settlement. Undoubtedly a remedies-fest will now break out, as commentators and lobbyists everywhere demand fines, break-up, licensing Windows source code and public flogging of MS execs outside branches of Circuit City, and that will no doubt help bring the still - apparently - intransigent Microsoft to the table. But the process has also helped bullet-proof his verdict; Microsoft is guilty, guilty as hell, and it'll have big trouble in getting that reversed. Specifically, Judge Jackson found that Microsoft is a monopoly; that it did try to carve-up the browser market with Netscape; that it harmed consumers by tying together the operating system and the browser; and that it bullied and threatened numerous companies, and cut special deals with others in order to stifle rival products, Netscape being them most obvious of these. In the view of the judge, "Microsoft enjoys so much power in the market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems that if it wished to exercise this power solely in terms of price, it could charge a price for Windows substantially above that which could be charged in a competitive market." The part of his verdict covering browser integration is particularly ominous, considering what's been happening in Caldera antitrust case against Microsoft (Click here for Caldera trail special report). The case included a long drawn out argument over whether IE had been integrated into Windows in order to benefit the consumer, whether it was actually an integral part of Windows or whether it was actually just arbitrarily tied into the product in order to eliminate rival browser manufacturers, and Jackson seems to have come down in favour of the latter. It's also important that he has concluded that this action harmed consumers, as this will be influential when it comes to remedies. Caldera meanwhile is trying to establish (with a great deal of inadvertent help from former MS exec Brad Silverberg, it appears) that Microsoft did precisely the same thing when it "integrated" Dos and Windows into a single "operating system," Windows 95 (Win95 - is it just Dos 7 plus Windows 4?). This would be what you'd call a 'pattern of anticompetitive behaviour. ® Complete Register Trial coverage

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?