Suing Microsoft: Sun Joins the Party
Last week Sun Microsystems filed a private lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging unlawful behavior on the part of the folks in Redmond with regard to Sun’s Java technology.
I’ve often mentioned the element of Microsoft’s ongoing anti-trust problems that will cause the software behemoth the most trouble isn’t the difficult settlement with the federal government and the states. What will cause Microsoft the most trouble are the dozens of lawsuits on the part of private parties. Thanks to the original District Court ruling, private parties no longer need to establish that Microsoft is a monopoly in order to pursue damages for illegal actions.
The courts have determined Microsoft’s monopoly status in the desktop OS business. All potential plaintiffs need to do is prove that Microsoft used its monopoly power in an illegal way. This saves potential plaintiffs years of time in the courts and huge amounts of money in legal fees.
For Microsoft, the number of independent lawsuits filed by private parties means it needs to, figuratively speaking, fight a litigation octopus one tentacle at a time. This is one of the reasons Microsoft has worked to corral the government lawsuits and some of the private lawsuits into omnibus actions, saving itself legal fees and allowing the company to focus its efforts on reaching comprehensive settlements.
Sun believes it has little choice but to file suit. They believe filing suit is in the best interest of its shareholders and employees. Sun wishes to stop Microsoft from distributing its own proprietary version of Java via of its monopoly in the OS market.
AOL Time Warner filed its own suit against Microsoft just weeks ago.
In what way, if any, does Microsoft’s legal problems benefit Apple?
I believe the continued litigation will lead to more open software standards (for Mac users and Windows users) as Microsoft is compelled to reign in its behavior. If the dissident states have their way, a more competitive environment for 3rd party software makers will develop and hardware manufacturers will have the option of choosing between two different versions of the Windows OS. One version will all the Microsoft add-ons and a second version that would ostensibly allow PC makers to load non-Microsoft software such as media players and other accessories.
I believe Apple will benefit from a more competitive environment in the PC arena.
What’s your view?
In what way, if any, does Microsoft?s legal problems benefit Apple?
I think the legal problems may get some people who pay attention to these things to look for alternatives. Apple will obviously be the main beneficiary of this. (Yes, I like Linux, but it is still geekware.)
By and large, though, I don’t think it will have much effect. Remember, M$ sells to IT management, who are largely oldtime mainframers, if they have any programming background at all. All they know is that no one ever got fired for going with M$, their bosses know even less than they do, and they know that everyone uses M$, so M$ must be the best. And if you ask why M$ is the best, they say it must be the best because everyone uses it.
Depressing, I know, but it explains a lot of human behavior.
Work is the curse of the drinking classes.
- Oscar Wilde