U.S. Likely to Seek Break-Up of Microsoft-Source
April 24, 2000 11:05 AM   Subscribe

U.S. Likely to Seek Break-Up of Microsoft-Source "Under the recommendation, one part would manufacture the Windows operating system, including functions to browse the Internet. The second company would market everything else -- including the Microsoft Office programs -- and would also be allowed to sell Internet software, the source said."
posted by bvanveen (17 comments total)
I thought that the origins of the anti-trust suit were built around Microsoft's combination of OS and web browser...How does this break-up effectively hinder Microsoft's ability to "own" the Internet?
posted by durbanpoison at 11:43 AM on April 24, 2000

I don't see how this break-up works at all. Both companies get to release Internet Explorer? One with Windows, and one as a stand-alone?
posted by Awol at 1:01 PM on April 24, 2000

>>Microsoft shares were trading down 12 7/16 at 66 1/2 early on Monday afternoon.

Gee whilikers!

If you think that MS is going to pull through in the long run now's the time to buy. Unless, of course, you think its going to tank some more before it gets better.

On the other hand, I suppose if the price stays depressed for long enough there will be employee attrition due to worthless options. That would do more harm to the company than cleaving it would.
posted by adamv at 1:19 PM on April 24, 2000

I despise this ruling. It's gonna hinder IE's ability to spread. Because really, Netscape is a piece of badly coded garbage (the windows version at least). It doesn't know how to render CSS at all, and even though it has "strict html rules and standards" that's just keeping the novices off the net while they spend hours to try and find a missing bracket. IE is excellent, it supports everything, takes NO TIME to load (because it loads on startup?), and it doesn't crash. Now see, the thing is, if they didn't include IE on windows, how would you download netscape? I guess netscape relies on the cds dispatched with ISPs.
posted by starduck at 5:12 PM on April 24, 2000

oh, but Microsoft is a real big propaganda MACHINE! Have you ever looked at their "DOJ vs Freedom to innovate" page?
posted by starduck at 5:13 PM on April 24, 2000

FYI - this ruling will not inhibit IE's ability to spread. If IE is given away for free download like it is today, the only limit is accessibility to the download and bandwidth and the resources spent to push it.
posted by plinth at 5:39 PM on April 24, 2000

what I meant was, without microsoft, would IE have become popular in the first place? Without the full force of them working on it, I just think they'll lose some momentum
posted by starduck at 6:16 PM on April 24, 2000

I must say that MS deserves a tremendous credit for their work. They've basically made computing affordable, standardized, and as a result widespread--which in turn has brought about a variety of new mediums for communication and expression. Personally, I don't think that was done with any concern for the benefit of others but heck, who cares right? What business these days has service as their number one goal? Regardless, I'd guess that even if they ever DO split the ruling against them would be tied up in court for a few more years, and ultimately, whatever the software-end of things becomes, that part will probably benefit most (my opinion is based largely on this and my limited observations of computing). Just a wild guess that we will see Windows become the next Mac OS but perhaps I'm parroting the article too much (I can't remember).
posted by greyscale at 6:37 PM on April 24, 2000

What a pant load that article was... dude, you've got to be kidding. Was this guy even alive during all of this? or is he on Microsoft's payroll? The reason I ask is because this can't be based on any reality that I'm aware of. Wow...

M$ blatantly ignore standards, buys whatever competes against it espesically if it's superior technology. Additionally, if a business does not have service in mind, they won't last... period. Finally, M$ does not give a good god damn about enhancing your communications or freedom express.

They want the money for that license. That's it.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 7:14 PM on April 24, 2000

Oh, I just realized it's Neal Stephenson. That explains everything... Cryptonomicon was a piece.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 7:23 PM on April 24, 2000

Dean, Not sure if you're referring to my comments, but I was trying to say exactly that. MS doesn't give a care about anything except your money, point is, they took a lot of it in the process of giving you something they sold you on, and I think the end result is a good one--widespread computing and communications via networked computing. Basically, what I got from that article was: back in the 80's Apple was too expensive so MS got a foothold in the OS arena, most peoples entire computing experience is with Windows and it has so many apps compiled for it that it has widespread favor both dollar-wise and practically speaking as it has a tool for most needs. Hope this makes sense. We could still not have widespread email use if it weren't for a popular and relatively cheap OS or hardware. Where I work they were spending like $60k/month for maintenance on an old mainframe when they converted to clustered PC's for an annual maintenance fee of about the same. (My dollar figures could be off but $1 million doesn't sound right....) I haven't really thought through my whole philosophy on institutions, ethics and purpose in business, computing trends, economics of it all, et cetera I'm just giving my passing comment which I think has at least a little more substance than "MS sucks cause they're a big institution and aren't offerring me a cushy job" or "MS is great cause their browser makes my web pages look pretty" but I don't articulate my ideas particularly well. Sorry.
posted by greyscale at 7:37 PM on April 24, 2000

Here's an interesting series of questions and some answers:

1. What keeps the Mac commercially viable? Up-to-date versions of MS Office. If that stops happening, Apple is toast. (Jobs thought it was sufficiently important that he bargained away a patent-infringement lawsuit against MS in exchange for a commitment to continue development of MS Office for Mac. And while Mac users don't like to admit it, the single critical event in the Apple turnaround was Bill Gates visage on a floor-to-ceiling display announcing continuing development of MS Office for Mac, because this stopped the general defenestration of Mac app companies.)

2. Why does Microsoft create Apple versions of MS Office? To keep Apple alive so that there is credible (but neutered) competition in the OS market.

3. If the apps group and the OS group become separate companies, why would MSAppCo continue to work on MS Office for Mac? To make a profit.

4. Does MS actually make a profit on MS Office for Mac?

Hmmm... I don't know the answer to question 4. I really wish I did, though.

Because if it is "no", then the proposed MS split would end development of MS Office for Mac because MSAppCo would have no reason to continue working on it (and MSOpSysCo wouldn't be permitted to). This would pretty much ensuring the eventual sidelining and irrelevancy of the Mac for many if not most users. The Mac would eventually suffer the same fate as OS/2, fading slowly into irrelevance.

Thus you'd have the ironic result of the MS split: the decline and fall of Apple.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:45 PM on April 24, 2000

greyscale, no not at all. Your comments are good and they reflect your personal belief and experience. I'm supportive of that. But, that article is not responsible...
posted by Dean_Paxton at 8:01 PM on April 24, 2000

Microsoft makes a good living from its many Macintosh applications. This came from a quote from Kwong, head of the Mac Business Unit, in some online interview or other after IE5 came out. The minor political statement of maintaining a modest alternative to Windows would not be sufficient for someone as greedy as Gates to throw good money after bad. Mac apps make money.
posted by joeclark at 9:45 AM on April 25, 2000

It may well be true that Mac apps make money, but it is not true that Microsoft is not willing to spend huge amounts of money for competitive advantage.

MS has *never* made any money off of the immense investment which was involved in developing Internet Explorer, because they've always given it away. It was always a strategic move, one which cost the corporation hundreds of millions of dollars.

Equally, the primary motivation for developing Office for Mac has been strategic. It may well also be true that it makes a profit for them, but that's secondary. They would have done it even if they lost money.

I have no doubt at all that they make gross profit off of Mac sales. The question is whether they make net profit. (They certainly don't make any profit at all off of Internet Explorer for Mac, any more than they do for any other version of IE.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:25 AM on April 25, 2000

I think Microsoft is willing to lose money on certain products, but only where they are trying to boost (or at least maintain) sales of another product. They got serious about Internet Explorer when Netscape started making (ill-considered) noises about how their browser was going to become a more important platform than any particular operating system. I think that initially, they wanted to head off a loss of sales in their operating systems. Now, the primary reason for giving away IE seems to be promoting sales of development tools.
posted by harmful at 11:39 AM on April 25, 2000

Isn't saying "Microsoft doesn't make money from I.E." just like saying AOL doesn't make money from AOL 5.0. One of the main purposes of I.E. was to give MSN a face, which makes one hell of a lot of money. It's really off topic, but I thought it was prudent to point out.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 11:49 AM on April 25, 2000

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