OK Folks, what is the goal of the Microsoft/DOJ case?

I did a little Google search with the words california case against microsoft in an attempt to find out why our estimable Department of Justice (CA’s that is) is keeping after Microsoft via the DOJ case. I got lots of hits, but none for the DOJ site itself. So I went to the site and searched just for microsoft and got quite a few hits, mostly press releases, but no solid facts as to what the litigants hope to accomplish other than some ‘solution’ never really specified.

Other links I found which were interesting are as follows:
[li]The People’ Weigh In on MS Case[/li][li]Harvard Law[/li][li]Hi Opal![/li][/ul]

There’s so much written about the case, I think the original reason for bringing suit has blurred and the litigants are only after a smack down, i.e., punishment.

What I’d like to know is how am I going to benefit. I use Windows 98 and it works for me, If I’d get even a $20 or $30 check back from the DOJ/Microsoft/California DOJ, I’d be happy, but I doubt if any person will benefit, actually I doubt if ANYONE will benefit other than the trial lawyers.

Personally, I think it’s a waste of time and money and will benefit only Microsoft’s competitors. YMMV :wink:

Pretty cool to get the government (read taxpayers) to put your main competitor outa biz. :eek:

Well, I’m not going to get into the Microsoft situation itself, but in general you seem to misapprehend the purpose of anti-trust law.

First of all, antitrust cases brought by a government are not intended to benefit consumers directly - the idea isn’t to get rebate checks sent. The idea of antitrust is to allow for more competition, which benefits consumers through lower prices and/or greater innovation.

And yes, antitrust litigation primarily directly benefits a company’s competitors. Again, deliberately so. It’s the competition that, on a level playing field, can provide the lower prices and/or greater innovation.


Yes, the litigants are only after punishment (most refer to it as remedy) right now. That’s because Microsoft was found to be a monopoly and was found to have broken the law by abusing their monopoly position. The remedy of splitting MS up was reversed in appeal (apparently largely due to Judge Jackson’s unfortunate mouthing off to the press).

If a reasonable remedy is achieved, it will benefit you by preventing MS from destroying all competition in the future. Competition breeds innovation. That may come at the cost of removing integrated portions of MS Windows, however it would likely also drop the cost of Windows.

Personally, I’d like to see more useful integration into Windows vs. an open API, so that (say) when voice recognition is inevitably rolled into Windows, I could choose a non-MS product to replace the functionality if it worked better.

Wow. If you think that’s all it’s about, I’m stunned. YOu haven’t been paying attention. Go to this search, and select the first result (the link is dead, but the cache appears to be intact).

Considering that “your main competitor” (Microsoft) has been using all sorts of illegal means to put you (everyone else) “outa biz” for the last decade or so, I think this simply qualifies as “payback.”

OK, you all gave good answers. Few questions:

[li]While remedy maybe the stated objective, does it not seem more like retribution?[/li][li]Why are the states involved? Will the remedies then only apply to those states?[/li][li]Hi Opal![/li][li]IIRC the Federal DOJ sued IBM some years back for a period of about 20 years and then gave up. Had the remedy already taken place? [Sorry, couldn’t find a cite].[/li][li]Am I only attacting Microsoft bashers? ;)[/li][/ul]

  1. Retribution is fine. Antitrust law is a criminal law, and retribution and deterrence are the two basic philosophical underpinnings of criminal law. There is a civil component of antitrust law, but it operates the same as the civil component of RICO law, as an adjunct.

  2. Because states represent the interests of consumers in those states and corporations organized in those states. The states have an interest, too. As for whether the remedies would apply only in those states, that depends on the remedies.

  3. Yah, technology had changed, so IBM’s monopoly and monopolistic practices in mainframes and other markets no longer operated as a bar to the market for other competitors. One of the key points of the Microsoft case is that Microsoft has appeared to have learned a lesson from IBM and is trying to leverage its commanding position in operating systems so that it can continue to dominate and mold developing technology so that it’s monopoly position is not made obsolete by changing technology.

  4. I’m not a Microsoft basher by any means. I’m someone who believes that antitrust law was one of America’s greatest economic innovations, one that has helped secure America’s prosperty throughout the 20th Century. History has repeatedly demonstrated that antitrust enforcement has been good for the markets and for the consumer. Why are your long-distance rates 1/10 of what they were in the 1980’s? Antitrust litigation against AT&T? Why are gas prices in the U.S. so low (not that this is an unreservedly good thing)? Because Standard Oil was forced to break up into competing companies. Etc.

If Microsoft has violated those laws, which both the district court and the appellate court have determined that it has, it should be forced to change its practices and/or be punished in accordance with those laws.


One would think that the MS’s problems would benefit competitiors, but while MS is stewing, all of their potential competition stumbled badly in the past year and a half, like the golfers in the Masters chasing Tiger Woods. If it weren’t for the lawsuit, MS might be sweeping up and have bought out Apple, Sun and AOL by now. It may be that the lawsuit is making the competition lazy with the product development side.

Or it might be that the length of the lawsuit is allowing MS’s behaviour to continue unabated. Granted, competitors have had to make missteps along the way (Lotus abandoning Ami Pro, for example), but MS have never ceased to force their software on the market through pressuring OEMs, deliberately commingling their products and forcing users to adopt others that they don’t need (Passport, for example). For them now to turn round and argue that creating a modular Windows would be really difficult and is therefore an unfair remedy, is ridiculous; it’s difficult precisely because of their illegal behaviour, and furthermore they seem to be forgetting the nature of what happens after one is found guilty of a crime: punishment.

MS isn’t exactly stewing. It is still using the same tactics it has been found guilty of, such as strongarming OEMs. Until the actual remedies are in place the competition in the software industry will still have a hard time.

As a Mac-head, I’m curious – how has Apple been “stumbling badly” lately? They’re one of the few personal computer companies that are still making money (vs. Gateway and Dell’s assorted losses, for instance)?

As for lazy product development, go use Apple’s iMovie and compare that with Microsoft’s Windows Movie Maker, then we’ll talk. :wink: The only lazy software developers I see are the ones who are resting on their illegal monopoly…