More Antitrust Suits
While the ruling was an expected victory for Microsoft, the company remains embroiled in other antitrust litigation. In early June, it appealed the European Unions antitrust ruling, which imposed a $611 million fine and ordered Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without Windows Media Player. The U.S. Appeals Court ruling has no legal bearing on the ongoing EU case, Sterling said, though the victory is likely to bolster Microsofts confidence going into the EU appeal. "Microsoft will use this as another bullet in its weaponry overseas, but all it is is one piece of ammunition, and Microsoft will need to win or lose the case on its underlying merits," Sterling said."As this court today concluded, removing code from Windows would hurt consumers rather than help them and would hurt the software industry rather than help [it]," Smith said. "Theres no reason to think that the answer should be any different in any other country. The facts are the same." In past statements, Mario Monti, the European Unions competition commissioner, has defended the EUs sanctions and expressed confidence that the EU ruling would be upheld on appeal. The U.S. Court of Appeals also denied requests from two trade groups, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Software and Information Industry Association, to overturn the antitrust settlement. Microsoft is far from being free and clear from antitrust litigation in the United States. Microsoft faces government and court oversight under the settlement through 2007, and any misconduct could be grounds for another case, said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, in Kirkland, Wash. Rosoff noted that the Justice Departments antitrust investigation stemmed from alleged violations of an earlier settlement. "This phase of the antitrust battle in the U.S. is over, but Microsoft must continue to accept government oversight and the threat of sanctions, as well as private antitrust lawsuits, as a permanent condition of doing business," Rosoff said in an e-mail interview. "Thats one of the negative effects of having the courts decide you have a monopoly." Check out eWEEK.coms Windows Center at http://windows.eweek.com for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
Microsoft already is drawing parallels between the findings in the U.S. Appeals Court ruling and its EU appeal. Smith said that while overseas courts will have to make their own findings based on different laws, a central question remains the same: whether removing code from Windows helps or hurts consumers and competition.