Microsoft Corporation and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) went into spin mode Friday night, both sides doing what they could to convince the public that they, of course, are in the right. But the DOJ and the 19 states aligned against Microsoft had a much easier go of it, considering that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson essentially agreed with every single claim they made about the software giant and its business practices. The DOJ declared the judge's finding a victory and vindication.
"The judge's findings present a compelling picture of a powerful predator abusing its market dominance -- an 800-pound gorilla crushing competition and stifling innovation," said Connecticut Assistant General Richard Blumenthal. "The three core findings are: Microsoft has a monopoly, it has abused that monopoly, it has abused that monopoly and consumers have been harmed in an 'immediate and easily discernible way.'"
"The Court's findings clearly confirm the Department of Justice's and States' position that Microsoft exploited its monopoly over operating systems, stripped consumers of their power to choose, and dominated a key sector of our economy," said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. "We are pleased that our case can move forward and we are confident that we will prevail on behalf of consumers everywhere."
As talk moves to possible penalties, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein refused to rule out the possibility that Microsoft would be broken up into several smaller companies, as were monopolists AT&T and Standard Oil. Klein says the DOJ is waiting on the findings of law--where Microsoft will be charged with breaking specific antitrust laws--before deciding on his judgment recommendation.
Meanwhile, the response from Microsoft was immediate: "The findings of fact in the antitrust lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department do not reflect the phenomenal competition and innovation in the software industry and that consumers make decisions based on the best products in the marketplace," the company said in a statement issued Friday night.
"We remain committed to resolving these issues in a fair and responsible manner as quickly as possible." said Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft. "We understand that Microsoft has a responsibility to provide leadership on behalf of consumers and the industry. As part of that, we have a responsibility to protect the principle that has made America a leader in technology - the freedom to innovate on behalf of our consumers."
Gates says the company would be happy to settle the case as long as the government allowed it to continue innovating. And the reply from Justice seemed to open that possibility.
"We have always said we are prepared to discuss settlement so long as the important competition issues are fully addressed," said Klein