|[10:20 AM] Microsoft's Concessions. What Concessions?
by Wes George
Over the weekend Microsoft said it would clarify a short 12 page concession plan the company offered the Justice Department and 19 states to conclude the ongoing antitrust case. However, Microsoft apparently could not do so to the satisfaction of all parties involved.
Microsoft's proposal is really the minimum list of remedies that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson is likely to order, if no compromise can be reached, sometime after his ruling later this week. According to press accounts the latest hang up is not only that Microsoft's concessions don't go far enough, but that the 19 states involve don't trust the language Microsoft's lawyers are using in the plan. The government lawyers clearly remember that this current antitrust case stems from Microsoft's failure to bargain in good faith during the first antitrust settlement reached between the company and the Justice Department back in 1995.
Moreover, the 19 states involved may be finding a compromise as difficult to reach among themselves as with Microsoft.
Microsoft has agreed to greater access to Windows' source code in order to open up to competition software development for the platform. Judge Jackson and the states also want Microsoft to open the application programming interface (API) layer, which determines how software links to the Windows operating system. So far, Microsoft has resisted this demand.
In other concessions, Microsoft has agreed to a ban on price discrimination when marketing Windows, a technique Microsoft has used in the past to punish those not towing the MS line. Also, the company will offer a version of Windows with no added Internet software, this supposedly creates a foothold for the competition.
The Mac Observer Spin: The concessions offered by Microsoft aren't concessions at all; they are merely the minimum the company could place on the table to appear to be bargaining in good faith. After all, in several of the so-called concessions Microsoft has merely conceded to following the law in the future! If the government accepts some version of this latest proposal to conclude the case then Microsoft's multi-million dollar legal team can rightly claim total victory.
Let's hope that the Justice Department sees through Microsoft's thinly veil contempt for the whole process and metes out a substantial remedy. At the minimum Microsoft should be forced to open the entire source code for Windows, not just pieces the company deems are useless or already out.
However, the only way to really guarantee Microsoft won't backslide on any deal reached is to break the company into at least four separate entities---a Windows OS company, an Internet Software group, a hardware group and finally a separate holding company for all the pies Microsoft has its tentacles in.
By breaking the company up, current shareholder value would likely be highly increased, while a shower of venture capital would rain down on those with suppressed innovations seeking to fairly compete against Microsoft. Without a break up of the company the MS reign of terror will undoubtedly continue and another round of antitrust lawsuits will almost certainly be forthcoming in the future.
For other stories regarding Apple's stock activity, visit our Apple Stock Watch Special Report.