Government Case against Software Giant Microsoft is Officially Closed

Government Case against Software Giant Microsoft is Officially Closed

5/25/2011

 

After almost ten years of legal wrangling, the antitrust lawsuit that the US government filed against Microsoft is finally and officially over. Nearly a decade ago, Microsoft signed an agreement with the government to resolve the antitrust charges against it. Now, the software giant is free of federal oversight.

The final judgment against the company, which was designed to restore the opportunity for competition for software applications classified as “middleware,” expired today. Some of the provisions in the consent decree ended in 2007.

In an e-mailed response to questions, an unnamed Microsoft spokesperson said, “Our experience has changed us and shaped how we view our responsibility to the industry. We are pleased to bring this particular matter to a successful resolution.”

However, there are lawyers who remain skeptical about just what was achieved by the settlement.

According to the president of the American Antitrust Institute, Bert Foer, “It was the antitrust case of the decade…but the remedy merely became a slap on the wrist.” He noted that around 90% of the personal computer market is still controlled by the software giant’s Windows operating system.

Back in 1998, the DOJ and attorneys general from 19 states, as well as the District of Columbia, filed a case against Microsoft, for allegedly abusing its market power in order to prevent competition.

In a recent news release by the Justice Department, it touted the legacy of the settlement signed almost a decade ago. “The competitive landscape changed allowing the marketplace to operate in a fair and open manner bringing about increased innovation and more choices for consumers,” the DOJ said in a statement. “The judgment protected the development and distribution of middleware–including web browsers, media players and instant messaging software–thereby increasing choices available to consumers.”

WRITTEN BY:

blakeh@wellsdrew.com