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Antitrust Victory for Consumers -

by Axcess Business News Friday, Dec. 27, 2002 at 7:16 PM

Consumers 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.

Eric Stevenson Editor Antitrust Victory for Consumers -
Microsoft Ordered to Carry Sun's Java

By Eric Stevenson - Axcess Business News

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.

Bill Gates looses antitrust law suitIn 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 violations."

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.

Mike Morris, 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 innovation."

Judge Motz accuses Microsoft of imperialist inclinationsJudge 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, isn't it?

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The views or opinions contained Inside Commentary are those of the editor and are not necessarily the views or opinions of Axcess Business News. Comments made are independent of this web site, its partners sites, or the staff, employees, directors, officers or agents of Axcess Business News. No comments, views or opinions are intended to support any political party, organization, association or group, directly or indirectly, in any manner. Inside Commentary is purely an editorial presentation of our editor on subjects of interest to our audience. If you have any comments or suggestions please direct them to editor@theaxcess.net.

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editor Eric Stevenson Saturday, Dec. 28, 2002 at 4:27 PM

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