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January 14, 2003—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Apple Lashes Out at Microsoft's California Settlement
- Judge: Trade Groups Can't Appeal Microsoft Decision
- Case Closed: AOL Time Warner Chairman Steps Down
- The Microsoft Mobility Tour Is Coming Soon to a City Near You
- Back by Popular Demand—Don't Miss Our Security Road Show Event!
3. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Apple Computer issued a statement this week criticizing Microsoft's proposed settlement with the state of California. The class-action lawsuit accused Microsoft of overcharging California consumers, schools, and businesses for Windows and other products.
In its statement, Apple said that the settlement, valued at $1.1 billion, would give Microsoft an unfair advantage over competition in the state, especially in the education market. "\[The settlement\] should not allow \[Microsoft\] to unfairly compete in education, one of the few remaining markets where \[Microsoft doesn't\] have monopoly power," Apple wrote, arguing that a clause in the settlement requires California schools to use part of the settlement funds to purchase Microsoft products.
Under terms of the settlement, plaintiffs in the California case will receive $5 to $29 (depending on how much Microsoft software they purchased), which they can use to purchase computer hardware or software from any company. If the plaintiffs don't redeem all the $1.1 billion in vouchers, Microsoft has pledged to donate two-thirds of the difference to low-income schools in California. The schools must use half of that money to purchase Microsoft software, however.
her decision in the Microsoft antitrust case can't appeal that decision. Judge Kollar-Kotelly said the two organizations, which represent computer hardware and software companies, failed to justify their appeal but are entitled to pursue their own antitrust cases against Microsoft, as Sun Microsystems has done. She also noted a lack of legal precedent. "Nothing prevents (the associations) or their membership from pursuing their own antitrust actions against Microsoft," Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her ruling. Microsoft and the trade organizations declined to comment on the ruling.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) petitioned Judge Kollar-Kotelly last month, arguing that their intervention could restore competition to the computer industry. The groups' members include several Microsoft rivals, including AOL Time Warner, Oracle, and Sun, as well as several Microsoft partners, such as Dow Jones & Company and Verizon.
AOL Time Warner Chairman Steve Case announced yesterday that he's stepping down from his position, casting further doubt on the troubled company's future. Case came on board when Time Warner merged with his company, AOL, the leading ISP. However, in the 2 years since the companies consummated their record-setting merger, the value of the combined companies has declined more than $200 billion, enraging shareholders and board members. Case has faced months of internal pressure, including an abortive attempt board members made last fall to remove him from power.
Case's resignation signals that AOL Time Warner is prepared to take radical steps to return to profitability, including, possibly, a spin-off of the AOL division. The failure of the merged companies—which Case billed as the nexus of old and new economies—suggests that bigger isn't always better in today's business climate and that the proposed synergy between AOL's technology and Time Warner's entertainment holdings was more contrived than real.
Case, who's the merged company's only remaining high-profile AOL executive, will continue as an AOL Time Warner board member. I expect the company's first move in the post-Case era will be another name change—back to Time Warner.
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If you missed last year's popular security road show event, now is your chance to catch it again in Portland, Oregon, and Redmond. Learn from experts Mark Minasi and Paul Thurrott about how to shore up your system's security and what desktop security features are planned for Microsoft .NET and beyond. Registration is free so sign up now!
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