Much Ado About Microsoft

As the Oracle-DOJ trial gets under way, and Microsoft remains the elephant in the courtroom, some customers are saying it's best to keep the government out of the process.

As the antitrust trial between the Oracle and the Department of Justice entered its second day, enterprise customers and partners continued to weigh in on the elephant in the courtroom—namely, Microsoft.

Two Microsoft Corp. executives are slated to testify during the trial, which is expected to last a month. And the revelation Monday that Microsoft held exploratory merger talks with SAP, another key player in the "high-function software" arena, continued to reverberate among enterprise customers.


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about what other users had to say about Microsofts high-end designs.

Industry consultant Jeff Talley, who requested that his company name be withheld, made no bones about Microsofts strategy to target the high end of the business-software market. But dont expect Microsoft to make its move until later this decade.

"Microsoft intends to dominate the enterprise market with [Project] Green [its revamped ERP suite due out in the 2006+ timeframe], just as surely as they intended to dominate electronic spreadsheets with Excel," Talley said.

"Green is going to be the next enterprise solution, with its only real competition probably coming from IBM. It is just a matter of time.

"The fate of PeopleSoft [Inc.], Oracle [Corp.], J.D. Edwards [and Co.] and the other 10,000 vendors in this space is as certain as was the fate of Lotus 1-2-3," Talley said. "Any statements to the contrary, by Microsoft or anyone else, are just plain silly."

Microsoft provided a sworn statement to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in March, claiming it had no designs to enter the market for high-end business software for at least two more years. Some users agreed with the Redmond software makers characterization of its plans, but others begged to differ.

"Everything hinges on the exact wording of Microsofts statement," reader Allan Corfield said. (Corfield requested that his title and company name be withheld.)

"The fact that Microsoft is pursuing its plans in the enterprise market is absolutely consistent with any sworn statement that it is not currently and is unlikely to be a material [enterprise CRM] player in two years."

"This [market share distinction] is extremely relevant for any DOJ case," Corfield said. "They have to base their anti-Oracle case on evidence of what is the state of matters now (Microsoft aint in the running now) and what is probably going to be the case in the future (Microsoft wont gain ground fast enough to make a difference). If Microsoft was going to be a major player in the next two years, presumably the DOJ could just sit back and let the players slug it out."

Other customers and partners seconded the idea that the best solution not only to the Oracle-PeopleSoft case, but also to Microsofts own antitrust case with the European Union, is to keep government out of the process.

On Tuesday, Microsoft filed an appeal of the EUs antitrust ruling, asking for both the $600+ million fine and the proposed sanctions to be overturned.


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