Microsoft Calls Breakup Too Harsh

  • Bob Trott (Computerworld)
  • 10 May, 2000 12:01

SAN MATEO (05/10/2000) - Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday asked a federal judge to reject the government's proposal to break it up in the wake of being found guilty of antitrust violations, instead offering to make changes to its business practices.

Responding to the U.S. Department of Justice's request two weeks ago that the software giant be divided into two companies, Microsoft told U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson it would agree to immediate restrictions while it appeals the case. However, the company asked Jackson to extend the trial's remedy phase, which the judge had planned to wrap up in 60 days.

Concessions Microsoft offered to make include releasing versions of Windows with the Internet Explorer browser hidden; allowing computer manufacturers to feature software from Microsoft's rivals on the Windows desktop; ending exclusionary licensing with manufacturers that prohibits PC makers from offering and prominently displaying non-Microsoft software; and allowing more access to Windows code to software makers.

However, a breakup goes well beyond the scope of the antitrust case, Microsoft argued.

"Now in stark contrast to the relief sought in its [original] complaint, the government seeks to rip apart the company that until recently had the largest market capitalization in the world -- an extreme remedy not even hinted at in the government's complaint," the company stated. "The law and the facts do not support such a radical step."

Microsoft also proposed a series of dates for Jackson's hearing on remedies, depending on which proposals the judge is considering.

If Jackson is seriously considering the breakup plan, Microsoft requested that it have until Dec. 4 to prepare. If a court-ordered breakup is dropped as an option, Microsoft requested that the remedies hearing be held Oct. 2. And, if Jackson dropped some remedies relating to disclosing APIs and Windows code, the company would seek a hearing Aug. 7.

The six court documents Microsoft filed Wednesday can be viewed at

Microsoft Corp. is at The U.S. Department of Justice is at