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Judge's findings: we reveal the upsides for MS

There are three - but they're only a bit positive...

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MS on Trial There are some positive points for Microsoft in Judge Jackson's findings of fact - no, really… Diligent Register research has identified three key areas where Microsoft can find a straw to clutch. We accept that the first 185 paragraphs aren't entirely positive, but in paragraph 186 we read: "As an abstract and general proposition, many - if not most - consumers can be said to benefit from Microsoft's provision of Web browsing functionality with its Windows operating system at no additional charge." Expect to see this widely quoted. But then ask yourself why the next two sentences are excluded: "No consumer benefit can be ascribed, however, to Microsoft's refusal to offer a version of Windows 95 or Windows 98 without Internet Explorer, or to Microsoft's refusal to provide a method for uninstalling Internet Explorer from Windows 98. In particular, Microsoft's decision to force users to take the browser in order to get the non-Web browsing features of Windows 98, including support for new Internet protocols and data formats is, as Allchin put it, simply a choice about distribution.'" Never mind, here's another: "Windows 98 offers some benefits unrelated to browsing that a consumer cannot obtain by combining Internet Explorer with Windows 95. For example, Windows 98 includes support for new hardware technologies and data formats that consumers may desire." There you go - it's all about building great software, unhampered by the legal stooges of unsuccessful competing companies, right? But then Jackson continues: " Microsoft has forced Windows users who do not want Internet Explorer to nevertheless license, install, and use Internet Explorer to obtain the unrelated benefits. Although some consumers might be inclined to go without Windows 98's new non-browsing features in order to avoid Internet Explorer, OEMs are unlikely to facilitate that choice, because they want consumers to use an operating system that supports the new hardware technologies they seek to sell." OK, third time lucky. Microsoft really does build better software: "The changes in usage share described above would likely not have occurred had Microsoft not improved its browsing software to the point that, by late 1996, the average user could not discern a significant difference in quality and features between the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Navigator. Well, not necessarily better: "As Microsoft's top executives predicted, however, Internet Explorer's quality and features have never surpassed Navigator's to such a degree as to compel a significant part of Navigator's installed base to switch to Internet Explorer. An internal Microsoft presentation concluded in February 1998 that many customers see MS and NS as parity products; no strong reason to switch," and another internal review three months later reported, 'IE4 is fundamentally not compelling" and "not differentiated from Netscape v4 - seen as a commodity.' " So there we have it: a few sentences in three paragraphs out of 412 paragraphs. The outlook is bleak for Microsoft. ® Complete Register Trial coverage

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