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Behavioural remedies: curbing Microsoft's conduct

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Behavioural remedies of all kinds have the drawback that they require active supervision by a court-appointed monitor - possibly a magistrate judge. They're therefore likely to be complex and costly to supervise, and present the additional disadvantage of being an ongoing process, whereas the government camp would like something that represented a clean break. There are several regulatory remedies possible, the most powerful being through pricing. It 's often suggested that Microsoft should be forced to have an OEM price list with perhaps only volume discounts, but this would not be enough: Judge Jackson has determined that Microsoft received monopoly profits, so an effective way to deal with these would be a permanent court-ordered price reduction for present products, probably to between 10 and 50 per cent of present prices. This would devalue the Microsoft Windows monopoly and create an incentive for developers, including Microsoft if it still existed as a single unit, to produce good add-on products. Many users and developers have suffered from Microsoft's failure to disclose and document its proprietary  interfaces adequately. If a major price reduction were coupled with an absolute requirement for the disclosure of all interface information, and all versions of Windows were declared to be an essential facility and put in the public domain, then this would create an incentive to develop a significant market for add-on products. Some analysts have suggested that this would make the integration of components difficult and less efficient, but such arguments reveal a lack of knowledge about software design: modularity is efficient, and inefficient modules could be replaced. Such substitutability is very much in the interest of users, and provides a method of rewarding good developers. Of course, users wouldn't be capable of carrying out a software mix-and-match exercise, but dealers would be able to advise and organise the loading. Since Microsoft's corporate behaviour has resulted from the actions of its officers, the suggestion has also been made that they be disqualified from office for an appropriate period of time. Another possible remedy is a ban on Microsoft making acquisitions, for a period of time, since it has frequently acquired companies to remove competition. ® Next part: Structural remedies: splitting Microsoft up Back to first part

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