Tuesday, February 22, 2000: Microsoft's Last Shot for Antitrust Absolution

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
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The saga is finally winding down. Oral arguments, the final step in the attenuated antitrust case against Microsoft, are scheduled for this Tuesday, February 22, 2000. Reporting live from the courtroom will be Lauren Hirsch, Go2mac.com’s legal correspondent.

The arguments will be in front of United States District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, the author of the 207-page factual ruling in November which badly wounded Microsoft. The November ruling called Microsoft an “abusive monopoly” which had used its overwhelming power to intimidate just about every company who sought to work with or against it.

The scheduled arguments are the first time since Judge Jackson’s November factual ruling that Microsoft will be able to argue the merits of the case to the judge. The arguments are also the last time both Microsoft and the Department of Justice will be able to make their cases to Judge Jackson before he issues his final ruling.

Windows Going Open-Source To Settle?

Perhaps fearing another diatribe from Judge Jackson, Microsoft is no doubt looking desperately for a way out. Bloomberg news reports today that Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said he’d be willing to make the source code of Windows available if it would mean a settlement of the ongoing antitrust lawsuit.

Releasing the source code of Windows would open the market to competitive operating systems built from the Windows source.

The report is sparking a flurry of reports about the parties in the ongoing antitrust lawsuit. The parties have been mired in settlement negotiations in Chicago since Judge Jackson released his scathing findings of fact in November.

Microsoft has vehemently denied ever making the comment, either to Bloomberg News or to anybody else. According to Bloomberg, Gates made the comment following a televised interview. In the televised portion of the interview, Gates was asked whether or not he’d ever consider opening the source in order to compete with other open-source products. Gates said he would not take such a step for that purpose because he believes the closed source makes Windows more “reliable.”

But after the interview, Bloomberg News posited the idea that opening the source to Windows might be a feasible settlement tactic in the ongoing antitrust lawsuit. Bloomberg reports, “Gates said ‘yes.’ He then added, smiling, ‘if that’s all it took.’”

“We’ve talked to Bill, and Bill said he never said that,” Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan said. “That issue is not even related to this case. All he said was we would try to do our best to settle this case.”

“We stand by our story,” said Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News.

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