“Not long ago, I went to Washington for a dinner given by a friend. She wanted to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the end of the Microsoft antitrust trial, which she had covered for a news agency and I had covered for Fortune magazine,” Joseph Nocera writes for The New York Times.
“The trial… woke Microsoft up to the fact that it was truly hated in Silicon Valley. It’s been trying to make nice ever since. It has settled a series of private antitrust suits – for some $3.5 billion – brought by rivals like Sun Microsystems. And it has worked assiduously to turn former enemies into allies. (Sun, which now holds joint news conferences with Microsoft, is a prime example.) At Microsoft, there is a lot less ‘my way or the highway’ than there used to be,” Nocera writes. “This is not an insignificant change – but it’s not what the antitrust trial was really about. The central issue was whether the company had an inalienable right to bundle new software products – a browser, a media player, antivirus software, a ‘ham sandwich,’ as Microsoft once put it – into its operating system. Whenever it does so, of course, it gives itself a huge home-court advantage: its software is suddenly available on over 90 percent of the world’s PC’s, and is usually the ‘default’ product as well.”
Nocera writes, “During the trial, Microsoft argued that when it added features to Windows it was helping consumers. To the company, its right to ‘innovate’ – as it invariably called the practice – was sacrosanct. The government argued that folding its version of a competitor’s product into its monopoly operating system was a deeply anticompetitive act. And here’s something that might surprise you: The Microsoft trial did not settle this critical question.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: That journalists hold parties to commemorate the anniversaries of trials they’ve covered is fairly scary in and of itself. Back to thrust of the article: Nocera questions whether Microsoft’s Windows monopoly can do to Google what they did to Netscape, if Microsoft decides to include Internet search in Windows Longhorn. Nocera writes, “Microsoft has Windows. That’s the main thing that hasn’t changed in the wake of the antitrust trial. That used to be enough. We’re going to find out if it still is.”