BOSTON (06/07/2000) - U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson will release his final judgment in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust case at 3 p.m. EDT today, setting forth the remedies he wants to impose on the software maker.
Jackson is widely expected to order a breakup of the company and also to impose behavioral remedies aimed at stopping what he has deemed to be Microsoft's illegal behavior and at opening competition in the operating system market.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and 19 state attorneys general filed suit against Microsoft two years ago, arguing that the software maker has used its monopoly status in operating systems to illegally attempt to dominate other markets, notably Internet browsers, and also has squelched competition. The DOJ and 17 state attorneys general have recommended that Jackson break the company in two as a remedy. Two other state attorneys general are calling for only behavioral remedies.
The government wants to split the company into two separate entities, with one focused on the Windows operating system and the second on other software applications. Jackson signaled during oral arguments in the remedy phase that he is in favor of breaking up Microsoft. The company vehemently objects to that remedy.
In its final brief in the remedies phase of the case, Microsoft argued yesterday that a breakup would cause significant damage to computer makers, software developers and others in the industry. Although that brief wasn't due until today, Microsoft contended that it didn't need the full time available before the filing deadline because the government's final brief recommended only "cosmetic" changes to the breakup proposal.
However, the final proposal suggested by the government plaintiffs is even more extreme than the original, Microsoft said in the filing. The government's plan would force Microsoft to redesign its existing operating systems that already are on the market so that they work independently of the Internet Explorer browser.
"The government's assurance that this forced redesign of shipping products would pose no problem ... is a cynical response to the substantial injury the public will sustain if Microsoft is forced to cease distributing these products next winter because it simply cannot do what the government suggests in the time provided," according to yesterday's Microsoft court filing.
Although today's ruling from Judge Jackson is expected to do precisely what the government seeks to do, the case is far from over. Microsoft has said it will appeal the judge's earlier findings that the company is a monopoly and that it has violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. The appeals process will take months, if not years.
Details on the final judgment will follow after it is released.
(James Niccolai in San Francisco contributed to this report.)Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or http://www.microsoft.com/ The DOJ, in Washington, D.C., can be reached on the Internet at http://www.usdoj.gov/.