Microsoft Must Move On
Microsoft should move as far as it can from its business model of yesteryear.After judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled in the Microsoft antitrust case a little more than a year ago, we said in this space that it was time to move on, urging Microsoft to take the ruling and its remedies seriously. It seemed at the time that Microsoft had vowed to adopt new competitive practices. CEO Steve Ballmer said, "Microsoft has learned and grown through the experience of the last four years. We must be aware of how our actions affect others and are perceived by them." But recently, the company has been engaging in behaviors that evoke the Microsoft of old. Office 2003, for example, requires customers to buy a slew of other new Microsoft products, such as Server 2003, SharePoint Portal Server and Exchange 2003, without which full Office 2003 functionality cannot be obtained. RealNetworks recently launched lawsuit claims that Microsoft uses anti-competitive methods to ensure the dominance of Window Media Player, making it difficult for other media software to compete on Windows operating systems. The lawsuit harks back to the accusations of tying a separate applicationInternet Explorerto a monopoly product Windowsthat did in rival Netscape and formed the foundation of earlier antitrust proceedings against Microsoft.
Microsoft has been liberal in spreading fear, uncertainty and doubtFUDwith regard to products it has on the drawing board. The disclosures of "Longhorn" technology, the next major release of Windows, fall into this category. Its Longhorn road maps show products that will by default contain applications that other companies now sell.