Antitrust Victory for Consumers -
Microsoft Ordered to Carry Sun's Java
Eric Stevenson - Axcess
In the scheme
of things, sometimes the little guy wins. In the case of Microsoft
(NasdaqNM: MSFT), Sun Microsystems
(NasdaqNM: SUNW) won a major antitrust
victory on Monday when a federal judge ordered Microsoft to distribute
Sun's Java programming language in its Windows operating system.
While some liken
the antitrust victory to go to Sun, I believe the real winners were
consumers. Its been no secret that Microsoft has faced federal scrutiny
for monopolizing the market for its Windows operating system. Let's
face facts, approximately 80% of the total market belongs to ol'
Bill Gates and his comrades at Microsoft and he wasn't about to
give market share easily.
This is not
the first time Microsoft has had a show down in court. AOL's Netscape
communications is also facing Microsoft in a similar antitrust suit,
as are less known companies such as Be Inc and Burst.com. Netscape
had charged that Microsoft deliberately made their software incompatible,
which has yet to face any similar ruling as was handed down today
by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz.
a forty-two page opinion Judge Motz said, "I find it as an
absolute certainty, that unless a preliminary injunction is entered,
Sun will have forever lost its right to compete, and the opportunity
to prevail, in a market undistorted by its competitor's antitrust
Of course Microsoft
stated they would ask for an appeal to Judge Motz's ruling, according
to Microsoft spokesman, Jim Dresler who said, "Clearly we're
disappointed with today's ruling and still need to review the details
of the court's decision."
While it stands
as no surprise that Microsoft would even consider asking for an
appeal, the case itself has greater baring on those cases yet to
be tried. You may recall that the government had settled with Microsoft
in their landmark antitrust suit after U.S. District Judge Colleen
Kollar-Kotelly endorsed it. Judge Kollar-Kotelly had rejected a
Java "must-carry" proposal by nine state attorneys general,
although Massachusetts and West Virginia are appealing that decision.
Sun Vice President, said in a prepared statement that the ruling
will benefit consumers and software developers. "This decision
changes the dynamics of the distribution channel for the Java technology.
That technology promises to open the markets now monopolized by
Microsoft to the benefits of robust competition and unrestrained
Motz took a good shot at two Microsoft officials who had testified
during the trial, saying, "they share what some might characterize
as their employer's imperialist inclinations."
In his ruling,
Judge Motz considered what the future impact of Microsoft's prior
actions would have on the market, unlike Judge Kollar-Kotelly. "Microsoft,
Sun and the developer community are all looking toward the future,
and in order to determine whether a must-carry injunction is necessary
and appropriate, a court must do so as well," Motz said.
In my opinion
Sun's Vice President was right, this is a victory for consumers.
We use Windows operating systems and have felt helpless as millions
of others have who faced the same dilemma all users of Microsoft
software have; compatibility. Its seems lame to think that a company
like Microsoft would be so shortsighted as to curtail its own customers
from having value-added software compatible with their own. Life's
hard enough and the vines of life that bind twixt our feet (careful,
I'm getting poetic) make roads hard to traverse. What I mean is
it's lame to be deliberately made to use a product merely out of
fear that I might change entirely. Have you bought any operating
software lately? The cost and the time it takes to learn how to
use it prohibit many users from switching, let alone upgrading!
I can only pray
that Judge Motz's ruling is not overturned. Consumers need a break,
especially from our court system. People's faith in American government
is waning all over the world, not just in the United States and
we need to do all we can to support our government and they need
to support us in return and show the world that democracy still
works and sometimes, the little guy wins. That's democracy in action,
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