Jobs Sounds Off on Microsoft Settlement

 
 
By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2001-11-28 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Senate Judiciary Committee has weighed in on the proposed antitrust case settlement between Microsoft Corp. and the federal government, and has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 12 to examine the credibility of the proposal.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has weighed in on the proposed antitrust case settlement between Microsoft Corp. and the federal government, and has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 12 to examine the credibility of the proposal. The committee will hear testimony from the Justice Department, attorneys general in favor and opposition to the settlement as well as a Microsoft executive or lawyer.
A Microsoft spokesman did not have any immediate comment on the hearing.
Its just one facet of a busy legal month for Microsoft. On Dec. 7, the nine states that opposed the settlement and the District of Columbia will file their proposal for a final judgment and a witness list to Washington D.C. District Judge Kathleen Kollar-Kotelly. In addition, Microsoft lawyers have to be back in court before Maryland District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz on Dec. 10 to present their case regarding the proposed settlement of more than 100 private antitrust cases against the Redmond, Wash. software maker. Earlier this week, Motz heard evidence for and against the proposed settlement of more than 100 private antitrust cases against Microsoft Corp.
The public hearing, held at the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Baltimore, went on well into the evening and no decision was expected immediately. Microsoft spokesman Jim Dessler said that the court had heard powerful testimony over the day offering evidence why the proposed settlement was appropriate. "The Judge has indicated he will continue to accept comments after today and will decide by mid-December whether or not to give preliminary approval for the proposed settlement," he said. The proposal calls for Microsoft to donate more than $1 billion in software, reconditioned computers, services and training to thousands of schools in the United States. But opponents of the deal say it doesnt go far enough to compensate everyone named in the class-action suits, and they allege that it doesnt punish Microsoft at all—instead giving the software firm a leg-up into the lucrative educational market. Apple Computer, which claims that half of the computers in education today are its computers, filed a 30-page brief opposing the proposed agreement. "We are baffled that a settlement imposed against Microsoft for breaking the law should allow, even encourage, them to unfairly make inroads into education--one of the few markets left where they dont have monopoly power," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a prepared statement. He is not alone in this view. Ed Black, the president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, also filed a letter with Judge Motz in which he said the court-ordered distribution of free Microsoft software would be "tantamount to judicially sanctioned predatory pricing by a monopolist in a critical market." Microsoft had come to dominate many of the most critical software markets largely through the use of illegal, anticompetitive tactics, he said, adding that it had faced some competition in the market for client operating systems - most notably from Apple in the education sector. "Access to this market is considered key to attracting and retaining users for future sales. By allowing Microsoft to flood the education market with free software - at virtually no cost to the company - the court will be virtually assuring that no other competitor will be able to charge for its products. The foreclosure of this market to competition and consumer choice will only facilitate the continuation of Microsofts unlawful monopolistic strategy," Black said in his letter. But Microsofts Desler said he "respectfully disagreed" with the assessments by Apple and others since the proposed settlement was platform neutral and certain of its provisions expressly addressed these concerns. "The deal is structured in such a way that the schools will decide what is best for them," he said.
 
 
 
 
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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