Microsoft's long-running antitrust judgment has reached its May 12 expiration date, effectively closing a long-running battle with the Department of Justice.
The U.S. Department of Justice is declaring an epic win in its long-running antitrust case
against Microsoft, which expires May 12.
"As a result of the Department of Justice Antitrust
Division's efforts in the Microsoft case and final judgment, the competitive
landscape changed allowing the marketplace to operate in a fair and open
manner," reads a statement released by the DOJ, "bringing about increased
innovation and more choices for consumers."
That statement also features the DOJ basically taking credit
for the entire tech landscape as it stands today: "The final judgment helped
create competitive conditions that enabled new kinds of products, such as cloud
computing services and mobile devices, to develop as potential platform threats
to the Windows desktop operating system."
Your tax dollars at work, everyone.
Microsoft's own statement on the matter was somewhat less effuse.
"Our experience has changed us and shaped how we view our
responsibility to the industry," Microsoft spokesperson Kevin Kutz wrote
in a statement
widely disseminated online. "We are pleased to bring this
matter to a successful conclusion."
Microsoft's troubles began with Internet Explorer, whose
initial form-launched in August 1995-is a world away from our hyper-slick browsers
of today: 1MB in size, and incapable of displaying graphics or newsgroups. It
initially came installed as part of the Internet Jumpstart Kit (subsequently
re-branded Internet Connection Wizard), itself part of the Windows 95 Plus!
IE descended from an early Web browser named Mosaic, whose
source code Microsoft licensed from a small company named Spyglass-which later
filed a loss-of-royalties lawsuit against Redmond, once the latter began giving
IE away for free.
In 1998, the DOJ and attorneys general for 19 states plus
the District of Columbia hit Microsoft with antitrust action over bundling IE
with Windows. Microsoft argued that the browser and operating system were
mutually dependent, eventually reaching a settlement in 2001. Under the terms of
that agreement, Microsoft agreed to share application programming interfaces
with outside companies. In addition, "authorized representatives" were granted
access to Microsoft's software codes and records, and the company was forbidden
from retaliating against OEMs if the latter contemplated distributing or
selling competing software.
also stipulated that Microsoft designate an internal compliance officer
with "responsibility for administering Microsoft's antitrust compliance program
and helping to ensure compliance."
Some provisions in the judgment expired in 2007. Even as
Microsoft closes out this chapter in its history, though, the case's effects
continue to ripple in even subtle ways: company executives, for example,
continuously use the word "choice" when describing any new initiative ("we
realize customers have a choice").