FLORENCE, ITALY (04/04/2000) - Executives attending a European IT industry conference today reacted with either glee or indifference to U.S. Federal District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's ruling that Microsoft Corp. had violated U.S. antitrust law.
"I am happy today," said Mark Woodward, vice president of worldwide operations at Serena Software Inc., speaking to IDG News Service at market researcher Gartner Group Inc.'s Spring Symposium here in Florence, Italy. "Microsoft has definitely used their powers in a negative way," added Woodward.
To back up his claim, Woodward cited the way he claimed Microsoft used to deal with his former employer, antivirus software supplier McAfee Associates Inc.
"Microsoft used to call on us (at McAfee), once every quarter or so, to let us know they were planning to incorporate an antivirus program in their operating system, and would we like it to be ours? Then they said they weren't going to pay us for it. In the end, they didn't do anything about it, but it kept us on our toes. They could have killed the whole antivirus industry if they wanted," Woodward said.
In his conclusions of law, the legal term for the verdict, Judge Jackson yesterday stated that Microsoft had used anticompetitive means and tried to monopolize the market for Web browser software. [See "UPDATE3: Judge Rules Microsoft Broke the Law," April 3.]One commonly held view here at the conference today seemed to be that the verdict will have little short-term effect on the European IT industry.
The stock market, or only "Bill Gates' own pocket," will be affected, said Tobias Philipp, an executive at U.S. database and tools vendor Sybase Inc.
Others felt that Europeans were just not ready to exploit the situation, citing the way that the U.S. software industry has championed would-be Windows operating system rival Linux.
"The European industry is not organized enough to take advantage of the situation," said Derek Ryan, middleware product specialist at Sybase. "Look at Linux, the Americans are the ones to take advantage of it, and making money of it."
For the rest of the industry as well as corporate users, the verdict is unlikely to bring much change, some executives suggested.
"To be honest, I expected this," said Joerg Kampers, senior account manager at Lucent Technologies Inc. "I doubt this will have much influence on the industry, since most big companies and banks already have a firm strategy and they will stick with it."
The U.S. Department of Justice has posted Judge Jackson's conclusions of law on its Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/atr.