Awaiting a Resolution
Court decision on remedy will come amid changed corporate climate.When the federal government decided to prosecute Microsoft Corp. for antitrust violations in the high-flying boom times of the late 90s, corporate America was a different place. Back then, the economy was still "new," the advice of Wall Street analysts was widely considered untainted and Martha Stewarts greatest alleged crime was being too prissy. But since spring, when a federal court heard nearly three months of testimony on the punishment to impose on Microsoft for illegally sustaining its monopoly, the business climate has changed dramatically. When U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly heard a series of Microsoft adversaries charge Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates with strong-arming partners, nobody knew that by summers end, a number of corporate Americas icons would be awash in criminal charges of book-cooking and insider trading. Early this month, Microsoft held a conference with reporters to herald the steps it is taking to comply with the still-unapproved antitrust settlement it signed with the Department of Justice in November. Given that the court is still reviewing the proposed settlement and simultaneously weighing much tougher remedies proposed by nine states, some usersparticularly open-source proponentsview Microsofts compliance proclamations primarily as a public relations measure.
"Basically, Im of the opinion that what Microsoft is doing now is to try and gain favor from the judge by appearing to cooperate," said Glenn Jacobson, president of Unique Systems Inc., in Holland, Ohio. "What they are saying is, We were not really guilty, but in order to end this litigation, we agreed to a set of changes that we will make, given that the court upholds our DOJ agreement. That tells me that they still do not get it and plan on using every trick in the book after the judge makes her decision to circumvent the restrictions."