Did your MSFT stock plummet? Well, good. Owning stock in a company is stating your approval of their actions, and if you’d approve of their actions, you deserve to lose your stock investment.
Why didn’t IBM get broken up? Because the trial dragged on too long and by the time it was done, the breakup wasn’t relevant.
Didn’t service improve since AT&T was broken up? The bill may be higher, even if you adjust for inflation, but the service is a thousand times better and there are classes of service that were never dreamed of before. AT&T was holding the market back, why should they change the way they do things dramatically if they don’t make any more money? Yet, if they didn’t squash the companies that might, they’d eventually be forced out. Their breakup didn’t magically make everything better, but it allowed for us to do things like buying a digital cellular phone for $25 and paying $25/month for 200 minutes and free evenings and weekends, including in some plans, flat-rate long distance in off-peak hours. That to me is far superior service to the clunky, low-quality service and those annoying rotary phones. I don’t believe we’d be here now if it wasn’t for the breakup.
I don’t think a breakup is really the punishment that fits the crime, that would be to take all the money that MS took via its illegal actions and distribute it to the customers who now pay near monopoly prices for their OS, and to the companies forced out of business by MS’s actions. This is clearly impossible, to broad to implement even if you could determine exactly how much they gained from each shady deal.
So, what do you do? Fine them? Who gets the money? How do you work out an appropriate fine? The company is much bigger now, a $1b fine based on their take in past years could be handled from their current cash reserves.
Breaking then up is a way to bring them down in size to where other companies can exert the same ammount of muscle, and theoretically keep each other honest. It might not work, won’t IMHO, unless they do more than just move some developers around. The seperation between divisions is critical, and they need to be monitored.
I’d support a harsh punishment, not just a breakup, if I could think of anything relevant. They did break a few laws, and came very close many other times, and deserve to suffer for it.