Say "NO WAY!"
That pesky "illegal operation" notice in the Windows operating system could easily be applied to the Justice Department's proposed settlement of the Microsoft antitrust case. The nine State Attorneys General who are opposing the settlement summed up its shortcomings in a single sentence:
"Nothing in the text of this agreement forces Microsoft to change its business practices and technical implementations in the least."
In fact, the proposed settlement would allow Microsoft to continue the very practices that led to its domination of the personal computer industry. It would not end the monopoly, prevent Microsoft from benefiting economically from its anti-competitive practices or prevent the company from behaving like a monopoly in the future. If the proposed settlement is approved, Microsoft's operating system monopoly will become even more deeply entrenched, enabling the company to expand its control over the Internet.
The settlement is clearly not in the public's interest. We've highlighted some of the key problems below:
The proposed settlement does not prevent Microsoft from bundling web browsers and other application software into its operating system. Illegal bundling and tying practices that were addressed in the Court's 2000 ruling are not in the proposed settlement.
The proposed settlement allows Microsoft to benefit from its past anti-competitive behavior. Microsoft has monopolized the web browser market as a result of its anti-competitive actions, but the proposed settlement does not require the company to provide software competitors with the information that need to ensure product compatibility.
The proposed settlement relies too heavily on financially-strapped equipment manufacturers to promote more competition.
The proposed settlement does not cover the new generation of web-based, Internet, and multimedia applications. Since the settlement applies only to products that were in use from 1995-98, it won't stop Microsoft from repeating anti-competitive practices with current and future products.
The proposed settlement doesn't cover Microsoft Office, although Office has more than 95% of the market for business productivity software.
The proposed settlement lets Microsoft decide which products are part of the Windows operating system and which are applications.
The proposed settlement gives Microsoft control over many enforcement decisions, essentially putting the fox in charge of guarding the hen house!
The proposed settlement would not require Microsoft to comply with computer industry standards, or prevent the company from undermining or altering standards, even when the intent is to deliberately deceive competitors.
The proposed settlement would allow Microsoft to disable competitive software products, effectively sabotaging any competition.
Details about the proposed settlement and instructions on how to file comments are on the DOJ web site at: http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/ms-settle.htm#docs.
Comments should be addressed to:
Renata B. Hesse
U.S. Department of Justice
601 D Street NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Submission of comments by email is preferred.
Fax: 202-307-1454 or 202-616-9937
To help encourage Internet users to speak out against the proposed settlement, NetAction has introduced this updated version of our popular Billyfish icon. Help us spread the word that Microsoft's monopoly can still be stopped by displaying our updated Billyfish icon on web sites, and forwarding this URL to other concerned Internet users.
Here's what happens (click on the fish):