While the Department of Justice and 19 states have spent thousands of hours and untold dollars pressing antitrust charges against Microsoft, the software monopoly has gone about its business — successfully and unapologetically.
"We have remained focused on creating great software because that is what our customers and this highly competitive industry require us to do," Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan said of the companys stellar financial and market performance during the nearly three-year court battle. "We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in the high-tech industry, and Microsoft is providing tremendous leadership as we move towards making the Internet truly work for our customers."
Since then-Attorney General Janet Reno took to the podium in October 1997 to announce the governments plan to begin antitrust actions against the worlds most famous software developer, Microsoft has acquired 30 companies and invested in an additional 110 companies — with 96 of those investments coming after the start of the governments antitrust trial in October 1998.
Microsoft has also has added dozens of products, including Windows 98 and Windows 2000. On Oct. 25, it will introduce the latest version of its flagship operating system (OS), Windows XP, which will include new technologies that — like the browser in 1997 — represent stand-alone markets for third-party developers. Among the new features: instant-messaging technology with MSN Messenger, as well as the Windows Media Player for streaming audio and video content.
As for browsers — the focal point of the antitrust trial — Microsofts Internet Explorer is the undisputed leader. WebSideStory pegs IEs share of the browser market at more than 87 percent in February. And the flagship Windows OS and the Microsoft Office suite of business applications continue to enjoy a 90 percent-plus share of their markets, according to Gartner Dataquest.
Microsofts market capitalization, meanwhile, has more than doubled, from $159 billion in 1997 to about $370 billion today — though thats down from its $540 billion market cap before the tech market meltdown of April 2000. It has also undergone a pair of 2-for-1 stock splits.
Microsoft has also continued to enjoy quarter after quarter of profitability and year after year of growth. Revenue for fiscal 2000, ended June 30, 2000, was $22.96 billion, up 16 percent from fiscal 1999s $19.75 billion. Net income was $9.43 billion for fiscal 2000, compared with $7.8 billion in fiscal 1999.
For fiscal 2001, ended June 30, analysts estimate Microsoft will announce earnings per share of $1.79, up from $1.72 per share reported last year. The consensus is that EPS will rise to $1.96 in 2002.
At the end of the day, Microsoft continues to hold a commanding position in the technology market — a position it will likely maintain in the foreseeable future.