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Microsoft Split Ordered By Judge

On Wednesday, June 7, 2000, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered that the worlds largest software company, Microsoft, be split into two separate companies. The ruling came as no surprise as the current conclusion to this phase of the antitrust case brought against the mega-firm. Quickly after the decision was handed down Microsoft pledged it would appeal the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court. The ruling calls for one company to handle Microsofts flagship operating system, Windows, while the other piece would focus on its software, Internet browser and other businesses. This decision marks only the third time a monopoly has been ordered to split up operations. The first was Standard Oil and the second was the early 1980s AT&T break-up. Judge Jacksons decision was based on what he said was Microsofts untrustworthiness and unwillingness "to accept the notion that it broke the law." Even Attorney General Janet Reno called the ruling, "a strong and effective remedy that will stimulate competition within the computer software industry." However, Microsoft would disagree stating that in the current fasted-paced technology environment the decision puts handcuffs on tech firms trying to expand and improve their products. The government claims that Microsofts move to imbed their Internet Explorer browser in Windows was an illegal use of their operating system monopoly. By doing so the software sultan used their monopoly to stamp out browser competition, like Netscape. To rebut that claim, Microsoft would plead its only capitalist sin was to give something away for free, only improving its Windows product with a new added feature. Some Republican lawmakers even agree with Microsofts screams of innocence. Therefore, the case is not dead and no one can predict its outcome for sure. But without a doubt government agencies will be watching the new phases of this fight closely. Time Warner recently walked the line of fair competition by using its cable monopoly to deprive viewers across the U.S. of Disney-owned ABC and their beloved Regis "Millioniare." AT&T already knows what its like to feel the gavel of a monopoly break up and may have a watchful eye once again placed upon them now that their recently approved MediaOne merger will give them ownership of nearly 30% of cable systems.

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Rick DeMott
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