quoted from a forum.
You can find the full thread here: http://pub1.ezboard.com/ftopazdesignsmisc.showMessage?topicID=2558.topic
Here's the text of the reply (not written by me)
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Well, I was going to start this topic, but I'll be glad to add in my opinion right here. :)
I've been reading a lot about the public reaction of this action online, in the newspapers, and watching it on TV and listening to it on the radio. The thing that completely disturbs me is the complete lack of understanding about this subject in the public arena.
It seems that anytime the government tries to step into a business case, people complain that the government is doing no good sticking it's nose where it doesn't belong. The impression is that Microsoft works hard, makes money, achieves the American dream, and then gets slapped in chains for it. The general impression of all these attitudes seems best summed up in the words "Just leave him alone, will you?"
Well, no. And here is why:
If you're on the supporting side of Microsoft, you really do not understand one bit about what really was going on. Let me give you the legal low-down and then you might understand a little bit better. But, hold on to your pants: this might be a shocker.
<i>Microsoft broke the law.</i>
This isn't a case about the government "getting involved", trying to weigh down the software industry with tons of bureaucratic papers. This is a legal case against Microsoft for good reason. And it isn't "the government" getting involved - it's the judicial branch that we call "the courts". These are not senators debating this on the floor of the senate, but judges in a court room that have determined that the monopolistic policies of this nation have been sorely misused, and even ignored.
This is a criminal case.
It is no different than if somebody is caught stealing money by not paying his taxes, or embezzling money from his company, or even stealing from another store. It is a case for the courts, regardless of what Microsoft would have you believe.
This case started many, many, years ago, and underwent the process of 3 administrations. It was first looked at in 1990. These sort of timelines do not persist through 3 presidential administrations and countless congressional reshuffles unless there is good reason for it. Only the Judicial branch of our government in the U.S. is that slow with anything, and for very good reason: they wanted to find the facts.
And they have.
The facts are this: Microsoft is a monopoly. This is not something that can be argued. Under the law, they fit the definition of a monopoly in every sense of the word. There is no room for argument here. Microsoft tried to change the argument by saying that they are not a monopoly in the new market, but that still does not change the legal definition. The legal definition is that they own more than 85% of the market share and, hence, they are a monopoly. Since Microsoft owns over 92% of the market share (according to <i>conservative</i> estimates), they fit this definition perfectly and can not make the argument otherwise.
Now, let's clear up another misconception that most people have - something I have been hearing over and over again: It is not, in fact, illegal to be a monopoly. The government is not prosecuting Microsoft because it is a monopoly. There are other monopolies out there that are untouched by the government. The mere fact that one is a monopoly has nothing to do whatsoever with going to court for being as such. Anyone who claims this is ignorant of the facts, and the law.
However, the law states that, as a monopoly, one has to follow certain guidelines established long ago so that competition may not be stifled. If one has a company that is defined as a monopoly, one has to accept playing by different rules. If one does not wish to play by those rules, one can easily sell of parts of the company to remain below monopoly standard, and keep playing by the "normal" rules.
It really is that simple.
Now, what did Microsoft do?
Well, Microsoft used it's power to threaten compliance with it's agenda, or it would retire it's services from those that did not wish to follow it's lead.
I.E.: It threatened, like any common mafia thug, for allegiances, or it could no longer guarantee "protection".
That means that when Dell, Gateway, and other companies wanted to include competitor software - regardless of whether it was better or worse - in their system configurations, Microsoft told them that if they did this, they would no longer have a licensing agreement for selling Microsoft Windows on their products.
Seeing as the market is 92% Microsoft, and seeing as about 98% of people who buy a PC from those companies (and others who testified) order Microsoft with their product, this means that Microsoft threatened the complete bankruptcy of those companies if they "didn't play ball".
This is illegal.
A monopoly, Microsoft has to make it's services available to anyone who wishes it, for the same price <i>and without exception</i>, or they are breaking the law. They cannot, for instance, give preference to Gateway, and not to Dell.
Again, this is breaking the law.
The idea that this was a suit brought on by Netscape and Sun and a few other companies because "they failed to market their products well enough" is a complete and utter falsehood. Yes, of course they were trying to bring their own competitor down, like any other company, but they were only going so far as the justice department because they knew that the law had been violated - many, many times. And there was nothing else they could do.
Now we come to the real interesting part: Microsoft doesn't live in the real world.
Microsoft seems to be unable to accept the fact that real laws and circumstances apply to it. For example, when Senator Orin Hatch, one of the most senior and respected senators of the government and head of the Judiciary committee, calls you to a public hearing on a subject which is <i>very</i> prominent in the news, you do not just send a secretarial reply saying that you are too busy to attend and that the government should not interfere with your business.
This is called "being obtuse".
When the judge in the case orders tapes to be made of interviews for the record of the court, you do not edit them in a studio to "shed a better light" on them before submitting them as evidence - twice.
This is called "fraud", and "tampering with evidence".
When the judge asks you if it is possible to take the Explorer browser out of the system without damaging it's operation, you do not lie to him and say that it is impossible. Because when that judge turns out not to be the complete technophobe that you might have hoped for, and does it himself in his chambers with all parties watching, in less than 5 minutes, you can end up looking very silly indeed.
There are many other examples, and people seem to think that it is merely a case where Microsoft did not see fit to grease the palms of a few politicians who were jealous and angry at it's conduct in giving them no preferential treatment.
Again, this is a falsehood.
The legal document was quite clear: Microsoft broke the laws that governed it as being a Monopoly, and it must pay the price. The judge was willing to hear another solution provided by Microsoft for it's own penalty, but Microsoft continues to admit to doing no wrong when, in fact, the laws clearly state otherwise. Microsoft is in complete denial. Bill Gate's tune about "innovation" is like that of a broken record which does his company no service. It sounds like a broken message that is so afraid to sway from it's little intonation for fear that anything else it might suggest would immediately point to the realization that it did, in fact, break the law. And, folks, we're not talking about lying to cover up a sex scandal. We're talking about breaking the law that cost the industry billions of dollars in revenue, and took the food out of the mouths of hundreds of thousands of people, just because Microsoft was afraid that a better product would come along.
Now I know every company plays this hard, but they aren't necessarily a monopoly, so they don't have certain limitations. If Microsoft wanted to keep playing that hard, it could have easily done away with part of it's market share and remained in the same ball park as the rest of those companies. It chose not to do this. It chose to be a monopoly and still play by the rules that other businesses are limited to, because it wanted the convenience of both worlds. This is not how the law works, and it is not how business works. And the reason that Microsoft received such a harsh judgment is because it refused to accept the law and tried to argue that the law did not apply to it.
If one goes into a courtroom, guilty of embezzling, and then states that yes, one did embezzle funds but that the laws of embezzlement do not apply in one's case, the courtroom will justly be outraged at that claim. And remember: we aren't talking about jaywalking here. We're talking about billions of dollars and some companies threatened with bankruptcy.
Microsoft has to learn that it is subject to laws, just like anyone else in this country. It also has to learn that it cannot remain oblivious to it's actions just because it has so much money and power. The judicial branch does not care if people are rich and powerful: judges tend (with only a few minor screwups) to care only about legal argument. Microsoft was obdurate enough not to want to accept this fact, and they lost.
Now, I don't know if splitting up the company is the right idea, but there seems to be very little other recourse offered by Microsoft. It's own version of Penitenziagite was woefully lacking in any apology or recourse that could have saved this situation. The judge was right in accusing it of being untrustworthy. And what fine could the Judiciary impose upon it? What fine could possibly even make a dent in it's operations enough for it to realize that it had lost something big due to a tremendous miscalculation that it had made? A billion dollars? Ten Billion? Microsoft could easily pay that sum and not even blink.
Frankly, I think that breaking up Microsoft will kill the Windows market entirely because the OS will no longer support internet functions, and that just will not be able to compete with other OSes that will. The applications side will flourish but the OS side will eventually die. And I'm not sure that is such a good idea. But Microsoft seems unwilling to accept any sort of responsibility or punishment and, therefore, will probably end up enduring the harshest ones. The judge has said again and again that if Microsoft apologizes and tries to come up with a reasonable ulterior solution, acceptable to the Justice Department, he would rather impose that measure instead of a breakup. But Microsoft did not. Again and again, they live in a world that isn't real and think themselves immune against the arm of the law. Obviously, this is not the case, and they will suffer for it.
Now, you can dispute the punishment and try to come up with your own solutions, and maybe you could email Bill Gates and implore him to listen to reason, but there is very little else you can say about the main fact: Microsoft broke the law, and it was caught red handed. It was found guilty of doing so after a trial that lasted over two years with over seventy days of testimony in court. This was not the hurried "political railroading" that people seem to think it was. These are lies put out by the propaganda spin masters of Microsoft, and their hope is to try to sway public opinion so that the courts may be swayed. This obviously did not work, and it will not work. They are deliberately trying to misinform you to try to make you look outraged at the government, when in fact, it is them that should bear the pointing of the finger with the words "J'accuse!" on your own lips.
That is the real case so far, and I hope you understand that if you think you know better, you can easily read the documents of the case which have been made public, to realize the error of your ways.
I think it summarises it all pretty much.