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Penfield Unrepentant, as is Microsoft

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson Says Nothing has Changed

"Nothing has changed, to my observation, in the five years that have elapsed since my decision," said retired federal Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in recent remarks at a conference in Washington, DC. "(Microsoft) Windows is an operating system monopoly, and the company's business strategy was to leverage Windows to achieve a comparable dominion over all software markets," he added.

Jackson ruled, after a long trial, that Microsoft should be broken up in a case that was pursued by the Clinton administration Department of Justice. Initiating of this proceeding provided the initial burst of the technology market in 2000. A highlight of the trial was a demonstration that the Micorosoft Internet Explorer browser was not necessarily an integral part of the operating system, as Microsoft had claimed.



Thomas P. Jackson

Jackson considered a mountain of testimony and evidence before declaring that Microsoft was, in fact, practicing monopolistic practices that flouted the law and should be broken up into an OS and an applications division as a result. Then he bragged about his decision and power to enforce it to reporters, and it fell apart on appeal. Microsoft quickly settled the case with the then-new Bush Administration, agreeing to be less restrictive in allowing third-party programs to be pre-installed on PCs running its Windows OS.

Since that time, Microsoft has actually lost share in the browser market, is a middling player in the emerging web services development market, and has not been even peripherally involved in recent news about major enterprise IT battles between Oracle and SAP.

Today, Microsoft is also aiming at aspects of the newly combined Adobe/Macromedia core business through its Acrylic beta downloads, and it will no longer the only vendor offering Intel-based personal computers once Apple is up and running with its new "Macintel" systems. It has recently faced political controversy over its support (or lack thereof) of gay rights legislation in its home state of Washington, as well as its apparent selected support of censorship in China. The company also continues to be unresolved in its dealings over business practices within the European Union.

Although the company has not commented on Jackson's recent remarks, one of its defenders, Jim Prendergast, who heads the Americans for Technology Leadership organization said that Microsoft's settlement with the U.S. government "was a much more reasonable approach" than the "draconian remedy" urged by Jackson.

(The organization counts Microsoft as the sole technology company listed as its founding members. Its statement of principlies includes the following: "Americans for Technology Leadership is dedicated to preserving the United States global leadership in information technology by working to maintain the dynamic relationship between consumers and entrepreneurs that has thrived in a largely unregulated marketplace. 

"Lately, federal and state governments have shown increased interest in regulating the complex and fast-changing world of Americaís high-tech industry. This trend threatens the continued growth and success of the American high-tech economy. Most importantly, it ignores the driving force behind the success: the consumer, the high-tech worker, and high-tech entrepreneurs.")

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.NETDJ News Desk monitors Microsoft .NET and its related technologies, including Silverlight, to present IT professionals with news, updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards, and insight.

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