Not Ready To Deal (11/8/99)
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So Judge Jackson has released his findings of fact in the "Redmond Justice" case, and to put it bluntly, things don't look so good for Microsoft. In fact, we'd have a harder time putting things more bluntly than the judge himself, who filled over 200 pages with such statements as "Microsoft has demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power and immense profits to harm any firm that insists on pursuing initiatives that could intensify competition against one of Microsoft's core products." Heck, it doesn't get much blunter than that. And now, with the facts stacked against them, Bill and his One Million Lawyers™ may finally have to face a very harsh reality: there is just no way they're going to win this case. What Judge Jackson has done is tell the world that he's going to rule against Microsoft-- without actually making the ruling yet. In other words, Microsoft had better hammer out a mutually agreeable settlement with the government before the final verdict is made, or the company will be (and we believe this is the correct legal terminology here) "utterly screwed."

And yet, we're still a bit doubtful that Jackson's 207-page wake-up call was enough to smack Microsoft out of its collective haze of stubbornness and self-perceived invulnerability. After all, could anybody have watched "Redmond Justice" all those months and not have expected findings of fact just like the ones we got? The judge continually laughed at Microsoft's ridiculous gambits, yelled at their lawyers, and napped when he got tired of hearing the same unbelievable assertions over and over again-- the findings of fact we eventually got were inevitable. So if Microsoft was unwilling to deal before, we're not convinced that this is going to change anything. Will it really make a difference to them now that they're hanging by one thread instead of two?

Bill and his minions, for their part, continue to claim that they've always been open to a settlement that would "preserve their freedom to innovate." We looked that up in our Microsoft-English dictionary (what, you didn't realize that Microsoftians speak a different language? Why did you think Bill kept asking for word definitions during his videotaped deposition?) and it means that Microsoft is open to any settlement that will let the company "keep doing everything exactly the same, including strong-arm other companies 'cause it's fun and makes us lots of money." But if they think the government's going to accept a settlement that doesn't include some pretty big changes, they're even goofier than they appeared in court. According to an Associated Press article, the government isn't interested in seeking a fine; what reasonable fine could actually make a dent in a company with a market cap of $450 billion? Nope, the government wants a fundamental change in the way Microsoft conducts its business. Will that mean a breakup? Could be; we'll have to wait and see. And hopefully, in the meantime, Microsoft won't suddenly grow a sense of perspective-- a real settlement might kill all the fun.


 
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The above scene was taken from the 11/8/99 episode:

November 8, 1999: Is Microsoft finally ready to negotiate a reasonable settlement, or will Justice have to bust out the Big Stick O' Punishment? Meanwhile, Microsoft's competitors had a great day on Wall Street, including Apple, who almost broke $100, and while we hate to stir up old trouble, rumors of a forthcoming six-slot Mac have surfaced...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 1898: Their Loss, Our Gain (11/8/99)   We admit it: Wall Street's reaction to the infamous "Redmond Justice" findings of fact surprised us a bit. Lots of people were expecting an overall market slump when Microsoft's stock spiralled out of control, but it wasn't meant to be...

  • 1899: Six-Slot Slickness (11/8/99)   Have you noticed what happens to a lot of complaints about Apple? Irate customers yell and scream for a while, there's a big ol' ruckus, lots of columnists write nasty venomous articles, Apple does nothing, and eventually the whole issue sort of fades into oblivion...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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