DOJ: No Microsoft Break-up
Following a Federal Appeals Court ruling that upheld Microsoft's alleged violations of the Sherman Act, the Department of Justice has postured itself to enforce a structural remedy on Microsoft rather than settle the case behind closed doors. Today, in a surprise announcement, the government reversed course and informed Microsoft that a break-up of the company was out of the question. Instead, the Justice Department is focusing on providing quick and effective relief through conduct-related provisions intended to rein in the software giant.
Efforts to seek a rehearing regarding the alleged illegal bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows 95 and 98 will also be dropped, according to government officials.
In a written statement, the DOJ explained the reasoning behind its actions by saying, "Pursuing a liability determination on the tying claim would only prolong proceedings and delay the imposition of relief that would benefit consumers."
The report went on to say, "Instead, the Department will seek an order that is modeled after the interim conduct-related provisions of the Final Judgment previously
ordered in the case."
Nine Appeals Court justices and more recently, officials of the European Union, have maintained that the company has engaged in anti-competitive practices by illegally using the leverage of its Windows operating systems to its advantage.
Microsoft is no stranger to behavior oriented court orders, and critics claim that such remedies are easily evaded. Immediately following the DOJ's announcement, Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) President and CEO Ed black stated, "Microsoft has demonstrated time and again that through their sheer power and immense wealth, they can easily evade behavioral remedies designed to constrain their unlawful activity." Black maintains that structural remedies are the most efficient solution to antitrust violations.
Responding to today's announcement, Microsoft's Jim Desler issued BetaNews a short statement, simply stating, "We remain committed to resolving the outstanding issues in this case."
Many analysts still feel that no resolution will be reached, and Redmond will be back to business as usual.