March 24, 2019

.comment: Cold Turkey - page 3

Holiday Paradise -- Day One

  • July 5, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell

I get back from the show to learn that the Federal appellate court has, seems to me, disemboweled the Microsoft antitrust ruling, and I'm desperate to write something about it. Absent a way to do so, I am forced to reflect, and the results are satisfying: The remedy imposed by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson wouldn't have done any good, anyway. The case had a goofy premise -- Microsoft bundling a browser -- because the government's one shot at doing any real good died when it folded like a cheap horse show chair in its1994 case against the company and agreed to a consent decree that did nothing at all. (For the historians among us, the Justice Department had gone after Microsoft for anti-competitive practices having to do with preloads, per-processor licenses to original equipment manufacturers, marketing of vaporware, and torpedoing of independent application developers. Bill Gates went to the White House and met with Bill Clinton. Bill Gates went to China, where Windows was declared the official operating system. Money began to flow from China to Clinton. The case against Microsoft was dropped. Probably all coincidence, but it is an interesting set of facts.)

The current case was weird, in that while Microsoft is guilty of lots of things that in my view justify prosecution (probably under the RICO statutes), it was not in this case charged with any of them. Nor would it do any good at all to split up Microsoft. If leveling the playing field and promoting competition in an essential industry were the goals, the way to do it would be to prohibit preloads of Microsoft software and including the price of Microsoft software in the cost of a new machine. Were people forced to choose their software separately, they'd look at alternatives.

That didn't happen, and it's not likely to happen. And in any case, Linux would thereby only be given a chance. Power and ease of use would be necessary to close the deal.

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