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The Pulpit: What Microsoft Learned

Apr 12, 1999, 11:07 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robert X. Cringely)

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"More than three months into the federal anti-trust trial of Microsoft Corporation, there has emerged a pretty clear image of the world's largest software company as a paranoid and mean-fisted outfit that sees its job as more one of killing competitors than serving customers. But is this anti-trust? Are consumers hurt or helped by Microsoft's business practices? This is the dilemma faced by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. Sure, Microsoft wanted to kill Netscape and to corrupt Sun Microsystems' Java language, but does either act hurt consumers? These actions, in themselves, probably don't hurt consumers. But that doesn't mean Microsoft is innocent -- just that the Department of Justice has followed the wrong strategy."

"The question here is not whether Microsoft crushes competitors but whether Microsoft hurts consumers. Crushing competitors is part of business and not illegal. Netscape doesn't have some intrinsic right to exist in a world otherwise controlled by Microsoft. Where Microsoft would get in trouble is if consumers were being forced to pay higher prices than they ought to specifically because of monopolistic Microsoft business practices. The Department of Justice's mistake has been to concentrate on the woes of Microsoft's competitors rather than those of Microsoft's customers. Forget about Netscape and Java. A trip to some local computer stores is all it takes to realize that Microsoft is gouging us."

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