Microsoft agreement faces opposition

Long-time Microsoft rival, Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems chairman and chief executive, said: ‘We’ve got to go after the laws of the land too. We cannot have anarchy internally while we go after all the other important issues.’

‘We’ve got some very solid, well-proven and well-tested antitrust laws on the books, like the Sherman Act, that have been here for over 100 years now,’ McNealy added. Ashcroft [attorney general John Ashcroft] has the responsibility to enforce those laws.’

McNealy also said the country has done a lot of the work already. ‘We have a judge and a 7-0 unanimous ruling that identifies very clearly the anti-competitive manoeuvers and strategies that Microsoft has used illegally.’

In response to the settlement, the Software & Information Industry Association issued a statement that said: ‘The reported settlement agreement, stunningly, will not change either Microsoft’s business practices nor its software implementations one iota. Instead, the settlement relies entirely on innocent third parties, the OEMs, to carry out any changes in what consumers are offered in the marketplace.’

SIAA’s president, Ken Wasch, also said the organisation strongly urges the Justice Department and the state attorneys general, even at this late stage, to reject this latest proposal.

America Online, which owns the Netscape Communications browser, responded in a statement that said: ‘In its current form, today’s proposed consent decree, like the one entered in 1994, does too little to promote competition and protect consumers, and can too easily be evaded by a determined monopolist like Microsoft.’

Ed Black, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose members include Sun Microsystems, Nokia and Oracle, said this is a total capitulation and will do little to protect consumers, competition, entrepreneurs and innovation.

‘They’re settling for something less than what they could have had a year and a half ago. Since then, they succeeded in having Microsoft found to be a monopolist and they had a unanimous Court of Appeals ruling in their favour,’ Black said.

He also said Microsoft should be held accountable for its unlawful action and prevented from further abusing its monopoly position.

Meanwhile, the 18 states participating in the lawsuit are widely expected to ask for an extension of the deadline imposed on settlement talks. The judge gave the states until Tuesday to determine whether they would back the settlement.

According to reports, state officials raised concerns that the pact would not go far enough to prevent Microsoft from future anti-competitive conduct.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said he would urge the states to review ‘every word and every implication of the proposal.’


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