Microsoft and Federal Government Reach Tentative Settlement

Wednesday October 31st, 2001

MSNBC is reporting that Microsoft has reached a tentative settlement with the Federal Government. The deal calls for a 5 year consent decree that forces Microsoft to release Windows without a variety of currently bundled programs like Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger, and Windows Media Player.

As you may know, the US Government has had consent decrees before, and Microsoft has completely ignored them, we feel. As in the past, we expect the version of Windows without the bundled packages to be almost identical in price to the current version of Windows. The last major question remaining is whether the State Attorneys General agree with the deal. We hope they do not, and push for much harsher punishment.

#46 AOL's dead dog

by Kovu <>

Friday November 2nd, 2001 11:50 PM

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I am not pro-Microsoft. I hate Microsoft. But AOL has its issues, too, and I think that the company's treatment of Netscape hasn't been great. The fact is, AOL COULD have tried to retake the browser market. AOL is and was then by far capable of IMMEDIATELY hacking up a version of Netscape that could have run within AOL. They did not. Now that the deal with Microsoft is over, AOL could have hacked in Netscape 4.x - which is supported better than Mozilla currently in the market - or used a "Quirk mode" version of Mozilla. They have not.

My personal opinion is that Microsoft was downright evil in its treatment of Netscape, but that AOL has been equally rotten in playing Netscape as the dead dog in the browser market in a deliberate effort to have the government disembowel a major competitor. You don't pay $13 million for the Netscape brand name and then do almost nothing with it unless you have a reason, and the reason was that if AOL used Netscape, the browser war would be largely unwon, giving Netscape a 40 share or higher.

This would then have made the outcome of the trial irrelevant, since IE would not have retained a monopoly status in the browser market (monopolies are only considered 80 share or higher of any given market). I bet the government dropped the tying issue because they knew they couldn't disprove that AOL had and did not use their ability to campaign on the behalf of Netscape's browser share.

Therefore, as the whole basis of the case has now been put on rocky ground by AOL itself, who chose not to compete at all, I think it's best to get SOMETHING out of it now and get on with other lawsuits about .Net, Passport, and whatnot. No matter what the restrictions are, the appeals court upheld the monopoly maintenance case and other trials will benefit from that precedent. I don't know yet how happy I am with the proposed settlement; I do think the government might be wasting some of the firepower it has, but I think they're doing it in favor of getting immediate restrictions placed rather than allowing Microsoft to drag the court proceeding out eternally.

The fact is: the Netscape name has so far been AOL's sacrifice to kill Microsoft. By extension, it is my view that AOL will only start pushing Netscape AFTER this trial is done, so I want it over one way or another.