Call That An Offer? (3/26/00)

Hey, speaking of "Redmond Justice," how 'bout we dish a little dirt on the latest developments, just to give the devil his due? When last we tuned in, Judge Jackson poured a little adrenaline on the proceedings by announcing that, unless significant progress was reported towards a settlement, he'd issue his ruling on Tuesday. Can you believe it? This phase of "Redmond Justice" is finally drawing to a close; we're either going to see a settlement, or-- hopefully-- an honest-to-goodness verdict in mere days.

Needless to say, Jackson's announcement (aw, heck-- let's just call it a threat) lit a fire under the butts of Microsoft's legal team. Unless they're trés brain-dead (a possibility we can't rule out completely), they're quite aware that any verdict handed down by Jackson is going to be the legal ruling equivalent of hitting Bill Gates with a chair-- and there's no foreign-object ban in this cage match. So, last Friday, Microsoft faxed the government a new settlement proposal. Now, at this late hour, you'd think that proposal would make some pretty heavy concessions, right? Nuh-uh. Reportedly Microsoft offered to let the government regulate "some" of its business practices and considered making the Windows API public to third-party applications developers. Oooooo. And all the company's asking in return is not having to admit that it ever did anything wrong, and free rein to stick whatever they want to into Windows. Gee, that's all? Office is already ubiquitous; imagine what would happen if it were built into Windows. Would any developer try to compete with that? Wave bye-bye to all word processors that aren't Word. Say so long to all spreadsheets that aren't Excel. You get the idea.

But here's the best part: reportedly, Microsoft's offering to separate Internet Explorer from Windows. Stop, please, you're killing us! Sure, now that the browser market share numbers are reversed and Netscape sold itself to AOL, thus turning a decent browser with a promising future into just another AOL portal tool, now Microsoft is willing to unbundle IE from Windows. News flash: Jackson ordered the company to do that in 1997, and Microsoft respectfully told him to go play in traffic. Microsoft's willingness to cooperate now is a bit like promising to stop stabbing the victim once he stops breathing.

So, as expected, the government wasn't exactly jumping to accept Microsoft's generous offer. As of late Friday nobody from the government had even flown to Chicago to negotiate. And now an Associated Press article reports that the government is, indeed, "unimpressed" with Microsoft's latest half-hearted (or half-somethinged, anyway) motions towards settlement. "New signs" suggest that the two sides aren't likely to make sufficient headway on any kind of agreement before Jackson delivers his verdict on Tuesday. So keep your fingers crossed! A Jackson verdict is our best bet for some serious sparkage in this tired old courtroom drama-- but one way or another, something big's going to happen. And soon.

SceneLink (2180)
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The above scene was taken from the 3/26/00 episode:

March 26, 2000: Microsoft launches a covert attack against Yours Truly, by making the Mac version of Internet Explorer 5.0 somewhat AtAT-unfriendly. Meanwhile, the government appears less than impressed with the latest settlement offer from Redmond, setting the stage for a verdict on Tuesday, and Apple misses out on a golden advertising opportunity at the Oscars...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2179: We're In Their Sights (3/26/00)   Never let it be said that them Redmond-dwellers ain't some crafty buggers. Look, nobody's still harboring any illusions about what Microsoft did to Netscape, right? Billy G. saw that he had a comfortable monopoly in the operating systems market, so when he was late to the Web browser party, he simply bundled Internet Explorer "free" with Windows, sat back, and waited for the market share numbers to change...

  • 2181: Missing The Big Show (3/26/00)   In happier news, your friendly neighborhood AtAT staff are bleary-eyed and quite spent following that seemingly neverending event known as the 72nd Annual Academy Awards. While we're not in the motion picture biz, there's nothing we like more than a good movie-- unless perhaps it's the chance to see lots of big-name celebrities dress up in silly clothes and sit uncomfortably through four hours of tongue-tied acceptance speeches, stale teleprompted "humor," and musical numbers that occasionally redefine the word "awful."...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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