But You Promised! (5/22/00)

There are many joys to be derived from "Redmond Justice": the intense courtroom drama, the laughable antics of Microsoft's bumbling legal team, the bracing energy of Judge Jackson's foul temper... the list is endless. One of our favorite things about the show, though, is the way that occasionally the producers break from their published schedule and broadcast a surprise episode, much to the delight of the fans. We received just such a happy little offering on Monday, in the form of an "unexpected court filing" two days before the next regularly scheduled broadcast; is this a great show, or what?

Faithful viewer Barry Hamill was the first to point out the surprise broadcast, in the form of a Reuters article. It seems that Microsoft is still wriggling with anxiety over its potential corporate breakup; in a baldfaced attempt to sway the judge prior to the official remedy hearings scheduled to start on Wednesday, Microsoft argues that the U.S. government had already ruled out a Microsoft breakup in a separate antitrust scuffle five years ago, and therefore shouldn't be trying to push one now: in 1995, "the government [had] already admitted that the breakup of Microsoft would be 'dangerous to the economy's welfare' and 'against the public interest.'" Microsoft's legal team evidently feels that a governmental decision made before the company had even committed the crimes for which it is about to be punished is binding unto eternity. (For those of you unversed in U.S. legal procedure, this is a subtle variation on a rarely-used maneuver known as the "No Tag-Backs" defense.)

It's awfully kind of Microsoft to provide a bit of comic relief before the gritty, knock-down, drag-out, limbs-torn-asunder hearings that'll commence on Wednesday. In addition, it's rather charming that the company's lawyers expect the judge to think that anything decided five years ago must necessarily apply today. In particular, we find it quaint that Microsoft's lawyers don't see the inherent danger in basically saying, "hey, when we got busted for antitrust violations five years ago, you didn't break us up-- just because we've been busted for committing the same exact kind of crimes again, how come a break-up is your solution now?" Those guys... always making us chortle.

The government, after wiping the tears of mirth from its eyes, responded in the predictable manner: "That Microsoft repeatedly broke the law after those statements were made demonstrates why only structural relief can prevent Microsoft from violating the antitrust laws in the future." We see only two possibilities here: either Microsoft's lawyers are criminally stupid, or this was a cunning plan to disable the opposition with paroxysms of paralyzing laughter. Will the government recover sufficiently from its fits of hysteria in time to state its case on Wednesday?

SceneLink (2310)
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The above scene was taken from the 5/22/00 episode:

May 22, 2000: The RDF breaks down in written form-- Mac OS X is delayed, no doubt about it. Meanwhile, Mac The Knife gets reincarnated as the Naked Mole Rat (maybe), and Microsoft tries a new and side-splittingly funny tack in its bid not to be broken up...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2308: Interests of Science (5/22/00)   Before the event, there was plenty of speculation as to why Apple broke with tradition this year and opted not to offer a public webcast of Steve's WWDC keynote address; after the event, most of us just assumed it was because there wasn't a whole lot of good news that Apple would have wanted to spread...

  • 2309: Sincerest Form of Flattery (5/22/00)   We just don't know. Many, many of you have written in to tell us about Mac The Knife's apparent reincarnation, but we can't help harboring a few doubts. The Knife, as you're probably aware, has been missing in action from his MacWEEK post lo these many moons, leading some to suggest that the edged implement had finally overdosed-- and others to wonder at the staggering amount of narcotic substance necessary to cause an overdose in that walking bundle of toxic tolerances...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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