Microsoft Scores Sweeping Victory In Antitrust Ruling, Business-As-Usual For The Software Giant

In what is already being heralded as a sweeping victory for Microsoft, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has ruled that most of the provisions in the settlement worked out between the Bush administrationis DoJ, 9 of the original suing states, and Microsoft is "in the public interest," and acceptable. Judge Kollar-Kotelly had been presiding over the penalty process of the landmark antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, as well as requests from 9 dissenting states that said the DoJ settlement didnit go far enough to prevent Microsoft from continuing its predatory monopolistic practices in the future.

Todayis ruling from Judge Kollar-Kotelly comes after a lengthy antitrust trial brought against the company by the Clinton administrationis DoJ and 19 states and the District of Columbia. That trial resulted in the company being found to hold monopoly power in operating systems, and to have abused that power in the market place by leveraging it to gain dominance in other markets, something expressly prohibited by the Sherman Antitrust Act. Microsoft was ordered to be broken into two companies by presiding judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, but that penalty was overturned by an appeals court. The appellate judges found that Judge Jackson had displayed bias against Microsoft during the trial, and ordered the penalty phase to be retried by a lower court, while upholding the Findings of Fact that Microsoft held monopoly power. It was the decision from that court, Judge Kollar-Kotellyis, that was released today.

The settlement worked out by the Bush Administrationis DoJ and the 9 states who went along with it, called for Microsoft to open up some of its APIs to developers, and little else. The 9 dissenting states called for stronger measures to be taken against Microsoft, citing continued abuse of its monopoly power even while the trial was under way. Judge Kollar-Kotellyis decision requires an earlier time table for opening up those APIs, but otherwise rejected the requests from those dissenting states. There is as yet no word on whether the 9 states will appeal the ruling.

Microsoftis stock gained more than US$2 in after hours trading. You can download the ruling from Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly from the US Court District of Columbiais Web site, though the courtis servers are currently being hammered from worldwide demand. The ruling has also been posted in our forums by members, and there is a discussion on the ruling as well.