"Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's factual findings in United
States v. Microsoft, released November 5, spell the doom of
Microsoft as we have known it. Forget what you hear about "might
change on appeal." Judge Jackson's legal conclusions, which he
hasn't yet announced, will be subject to very careful appellate
review all the way to the Supreme Court, if Microsoft wants to go
there. But no one is likely to mess with his facts. The trial judge
is the one who hears the witnesses, and higher courts respect the
difference between live evidence and the cold record too much to
change his factual findings. Those facts can be used against
Microsoft in other litigation, of which there will soon be plenty,
without having to be proved all over again...."
"But the hired talkers do have one point: We won't need drastic
remedies to fix the Microsoft mess. Antitrust remedies don't have
to be about punishing misbehaving competitors if there is a better
way to restore competition. As Judge Jackson makes clear, the basic
problem is that Microsoft hasn't had any viable competitor in the
operating-systems business. But if he crafts the right remedy, it
could have one very quickly: Linux. This free-software operating
system, Judge Jackson recognizes, was built by tens of thousands of
volunteers worldwide, has millions of users and runs sophisticated
server computers at least as well as Windows NT."
"To make Linux a full competitor with Windows would require
small changes in Microsoft's rules for dispensing information about
how others' programs use the Windows APIs. If those and similar
legal and technical obstacles are removed, Linux-based systems
would be able to run all programs written for Windows
computers. Existing users could switch operating systems
without changing the programs they use every day. As Judge Jackson
found, there is no alternative competitor on the horizon anywhere
close to achieving that level of compatibility with Windows."
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