Settlement, Shmettlement (11/2/01)
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The fat lady may not be singing, but she's definitely running through her vocal warmups right about now; according to a Reuters article, the Department of Justice has officially announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Microsoft, thus marking the imminent end of the long-running "Redmond Justice" drama. Largely as rumored, the settlement lacks a certain degree of "oomph"; whereas Judge Jackson had ordered that the company be split in two (a penalty thrown out because Jackson liked to chit-chat with the press), the new Bush-era DoJ, despite having the upper hand with an incontestable ruling that Microsoft wielded and abused monopoly power, is apparently content to settle for handing the Redmond giant another lame-o consent decree. Because, you know, that one in 1995 worked so freakin' well.

The settlement reportedly requires that Microsoft allow computer manufacturers to load third-party software products on their systems without punishment-- so companies like Dell and Gateway are now free to ship their machines with Netscape installed now that nobody actually wants to use it anymore. We imagine that Netsca-- er, AOL employees are probably dancing with joy right now. Microsoft will also be forced to share its Windows programming interfaces with outside developers, and "offer uniform licensing terms to key computer makers." Ouch, how will the company ever rebound from such a crushing blow? According to an ABCNEWS article pointed out by faithful viewer Jeremy Boyd, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a statement calling the proposed deal a "strong, historic settlement, that will put an end to Microsoft's unlawful conduct"-- a statement that also doubled as a surprising revelation that the man is a closet crackhead. (Bill Gates reportedly called the settlement "fair and reasonable." If he did it without giggling, we'll admit some newfound respect for the man.)

The settlement still has to be approved by the judge, but we expect that won't be a problem. Getting the eighteen states involved with the case to sign on might be tougher; many of the attorneys general in on the suit have already expressed unhappiness (if not outright incredulity) with the proposed deal, and we won't be surprised if a fair number of them refuse to endorse the agreement by Tuesday's deadline. According to The Register, however, the DoJ "has already decided that the States won't be coming along, but that it should still cut its own deal and get the hell out of the kitchen." We never thought it possible, but we've finally encountered a sellout more egregious than Bungie's move to Redmond.

On the plus side, that implies that antitrust drama junkies like yourselves may get your fix for a while longer, in the form of whatever action the states choose to take after the DoJ rolls over and plays dead. And even if the states decide to bail as well, look at it this way; once the new consent decree is blatantly ignored by Microsoft just as the last one was, we can look forward to the whole process beginning anew in 2004 or so. Maybe the 2007 consent decree will finally get it right. Ya think?


 
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far


 

The above scene was taken from the 11/2/01 episode:

November 2, 2001: Word leaks that a Taiwanese manufacturer is producing 600,000 PDAs for Apple; too bad it's not true. Meanwhile, CNET scrapes together yet another "OS Death Match," this time pitting Mac OS X against Windows XP, and the Justice Department agrees to a "Redmond Justice" settlement that's less of a slap on the wrist than it is a big, sloppy kiss on the... well, you get the idea...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3370: Apple PDA: Give Up, Already (11/2/01)   Man, what is it with Taiwanese manufacturing subcontractors and Loose Lips Syndrome? Frankly, we wouldn't mind so much if their leaked info ever turned out to be true, but usually they're just yanking our collective chain...

  • 3371: An Andalusian Mac OS X (11/2/01)   During CNET's last two "OS Death Matches," we admit that we were a little flummoxed by the results. After all, CNET isn't exactly known to be the most Mac-friendly media group out there, so while we'd expect any sane and rational entity with an ounce of taste to rate Mac OS 9 over Corel Linux and Mac OS X over Windows 2000, let's just say that CNET surprised us with its final results...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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