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LinuxPlanet: .comment: The Settlement Sucks

Nov 07, 2001, 13:47 (51 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dennis E. Powell)
"There are no two ways about it: The settlement that the United States Department of Justice reached last week with Microsoft Corporation is only barely better than the one the parties reached in 1995. Microsoft, adjudged guilty of essentially hijacking the software industry, has agreed not to do it anymore unless it wants to.

The settlement's announcement lit a fire under the tinfoil hat crowd (details here), which was quick to come forward with speculation as to the motives of secretive government officials, the exchange of money, and other fanciful things that have no basis in evidence, let alone fact. The actual explanation is a lot simpler: Microsoft has flummoxed the Justice Departments of two consecutive administrations -- in both cases after the judiciary had decided that the charges against the company were more than valid.

(I'll digress just a bit. Part of the job of prosecutors is to make cases go away. That is why we have plea bargains and settlements. In the current case, the judge strongly encouraged the parties to settle. Any settlement at all provided the government lawyers a tick in the win column, which is paramount to them. Microsoft's lawyers had far stronger motivation to be tough bargainers than did the government lawyers. And if you think that all of this has nothing to do with justice, well, you're entirely right.)

Indeed, the settlement actually has the government agreeing with Microsoft that there is only one operating system in the world today, and that operating system is Windows. It deals with opening standards to the extent that non-Microsoft applications developers can develop for Windows on an even field with Microsoft's own application writers (yeah, right), but makes no provision for other operating systems. Especially unaddressed is the matter of preloads, meaning that computer buyers will pay the Microsoft tax whether they use Microsoft's execrable (and, arguably, excreted) software or not. In its purported attempt to limit Microsoft's monopoly, the settlement in fact codifies it and if anything extends it."

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