South Carolina bails out of antitrust probe

Calling the AOL buyout of Netscape proof that "competition is alive and well" in the computer industry, the state of South Carolina officially withdrew from the antitrust lawsuit filed against Microsoft Corporation. Obviously, this is a major coup for the software company.

"Recent events have proven that the Internet is a segment of our economy where innovation is thriving. The merger of America Online with Netscape and the alliance by those two companies with Sun Microsystems proves that the forces of competition are working," said South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon on Monday. "Further government intervention or regulation is unnecessary and, in my judgment, unwise."

Microsoft has argued that Netscape's purchase by America Online was, indeed, a clear sign that the company can't prevent its competitors from coming up with new ways to remain viable.

"We are pleased with the news and hope other states will follow the lead of South Carolina," said Microsoft spokesperson Tom Pilla.

"There are no monopolies on the Internet," Condon said. "We can no longer justify our continued involvement or the expenditure of state resources on a trial that has been made moot by the actions of the competitive marketplace."

When you look at the AOL-Netscape deal, it's hard to believe the government can still push their case with a straight face," Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates said on Monday. "The AOL deal shows the high tech market changing more quickly than any other industry on earth. Three of our biggest competitors have banded together to compete against Microsoft, and yet amazingly, the government is still trying to slow Microsoft down. As we saw in the IBM case in the '70s and '80s, advances in the technology marketplace move a lot faster than government regulation and antitrust lawsuits.

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