DOJ Ends Ten Years of Microsoft Oversight

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News Posted: Fri, Apr 29 2011 5:21 PM
When the Department of Justice and Microsoft hammered out the terms of their agreement in 2001, one of the strictures was that the software giant would be subject to official DOJ oversight for a period of five years. In 2006, the DoJ opted to extend the term another five years, but the government body won't be doing the same thing again. On May 12, Microsoft will no longer be subject to special federal oversight.

Analysts anticipate we'll see Microsoft making some bolder moves as a result, though no one anticipates a return to the old days. Rob Enderle, principle analyst at Enderle Group, told reports that "Any type of consent decree like the one that was over IBM and the one that is over Microsoft limits significantly a company's ability to move," Enderle said. "They have to always be worried that something they are doing or considering or strategizing is going to cross the line or get them in trouble by the folks providing the oversight. The fear of that can tie a company up badly."

Federal oversight, according to Enderle, is sometimes wielded within a company as a sort of corporate boogyman that's trotted out to kill projects a manager might not like or to stall new developments at a company that threaten someone else's entrenched interests. Remove this fear, says Enderle, and you help restore an organization's ability to be creative.


How'd you like to be the guy who has to climb up there and reboot it?

Even if Microsoft wanted to return to its aggressive roots, it would face huge obstacles. In the late 1990s its OS/Office competitors were dead, dying, or too small to matter (Apple eventually became an exception). Netscape was an ant. Windows was making inroads into corporate settings thanks to NT 4.0 and Windows 2000.

Oversight or no, Redmond has genuine competitors now. It can't step out and buy Google in order to dominate search. It can't snuff out iOS or Android to make WP7 automatically dominant in cell phones. Ten years of oversight didn't lead to new competition in the desktop or office space, but it helped make room for new startups to flourish in other areas.

More practically, has stated it will continue to follow all of the rules laid down by the DOJ. Separate agreements Microsoft has reached with the EU or any other nation will continue to be in effect.
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realneil replied on Fri, Apr 29 2011 7:48 PM

Maybe they'll play nice now. Zip it! But I believe that they'll still try to exert too much influence on everything they're involved in. It's how they roll.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Apr 29 2011 8:27 PM

>> though no one anticipates a return to the old days

I do.

http://www.ecis.eu/documents/Finalversion_Consumerchoicepaper.pdf

If they don't, they'll be a minor has-been by 2025, since they've never actually been an innovator.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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realneil replied on Fri, Apr 29 2011 9:25 PM

3vi1:

Thanks for the link. Sent it to some MS worshipers just now, and await their screams and writhing,.............

 

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Joel H replied on Sat, Apr 30 2011 12:04 PM

You're quoting a document written in the EU as pertains to the EU. The European Union has different standards in place for what constitutes monopoly and 'abuse' as compared to the US. This was also the case when discussing the AMD/Intel antitrust situation.

You're welcome to agree with the EU's stance on things but that doesn't translate into harm under American law as defined by the Sherman antitrust act and subsequent judicial decisions/legislative amendments over the past 120 years.

Secondly, there's an entirely different group of people running the company. The founders are (mostly) gone or occupy consulting positions. Microsoft isn't the young tough trying to make a name for itself anymore.

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3vi1 replied on Sun, May 1 2011 9:35 AM

>> You're quoting a document written in the EU as pertains to the EU.

About things Microsoft did in the U.S. to U.S. competitors.

>> The European Union has different standards in place for what constitutes monopoly and 'abuse' as compared to the US.

i.e. "sanity".

>> translate into harm under American law as defined by the Sherman antitrust act

So you think they things they did, as outlined in the document, are perfectly acceptable business practices? There's a difference between legal and ethical. Should companies do everything they legally can, when it hurts the industry and their consumers?

>> there's an entirely different group of people running the company.

Right. The "evil" ones all left. There is no one greedy left at Microsoft. 

Ballmer's not evil at all.  He just likes to say there are hundreds of patents Linux is violating so that business can make an "informed decision".  And when told to "Put up or shut up" by Linux Torvalds, he never names a single patent.  No.. instead he sues 3rd party manufacturers with settlements that won't let them disclose the offending patents so that the community can either excise the code or have the patent invalidated.

And just because their stock took a 3% drop yesterday doesn't mean they're going to look to the old ways to drive it up again, right?  So what if they lost another $726M in the habitually expensive online division.;.  people will start using Bing without Microsoft using shady business practices.  They know people will continue using MS Office forever - even without some crazy conspiracy theory where Ellison buys Sun and torpedos commercial support for OpenOffice for god only knows why.  And of course surely the deal with Nokia was perfectly logical, and if that company goes down in flames it's all for the glory of the stockholders and not at all the fault of cronyisim.

We don't have to wait for Microsoft to start using underhanded practices...  I'm pretty sure they're already doing it.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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