BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Business
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Market Data 
Economy 
Companies 
E-Commerce 
Your Money 
Business Basics 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Friday, 2 November, 2001, 23:08 GMT
Microsoft rivals blast 'toothless' deal
Workers in Malaysia pack Windows XP
Competitors fear Windows XP will further extend Microsoft's dominance
Consumer groups and Microsoft's competitors have hit out at the US Justice Department (DoJ) for not coming down hard enough on the software giant.


It doesn't punish Microsoft for past behaviour, it just tells them to quit doing what they shouldn't be doing

James Love, US consumer champion
The final details of the anti-trust sanctions to be taken against Microsoft have yet to emerge after both parties agreed to settle out of court on Friday.

But the proposed DoJ settlement has already been branded 'toothless' and a 'sell-out' by the trade body representing some of Microsoft's biggest competitors.


It is clear the proposal will not deter Microsoft's illegal behaviour or prevent it from leveraging its operating system monopoly into markets for other products and services

Computer and Communications Industry Association
AOL Time Warner, whose Netscape product was at the heart of the US government's original court action against Microsoft, has said the proposed sanctions against the software giant would be too easily evaded.

While Sun Microsystems has said it does not think the proposed settlement goes far enough.

Consumer groups

Some competitors are considering suing for damages once the settlement has been finalised.

US consumer groups have also said the Microsoft settlement lacks 'bite'.

James Love, director of the Consumer Project on Technology, said: "It doesn't punish Microsoft for past behaviour, it just tells them to quit doing what they shouldn't be doing, which gave the company more money and gave it more dominance than it should have had."

Trade body's rebuke

The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which represents Oracle, AOL and Sun Microsystems among, issued a stinging rebuke to the Justice Department's proposals as details began to emerge on Thursday.

"The current settlement proposals will do little to protect consumers, competition, entrepreneurs and innovation.

"It is clear the proposal will not deter Microsoft's illegal behaviour or prevent it from leveraging its operating system monopoly into markets for other products and services.

"For instance, with Windows XP Microsoft now intends to shift its monopoly to the internet," it said.

How settlement will work

The proposed settlement would allow PC makers to feature non-Microsoft software in the machines they sell.

It also opens up the inner workings of Microsoft's ubiquitous Windows software to competitors.

But the deal does not include the disclosure of the all-important Windows "source code".

This is the key to the Windows system and, as such, will continue to be jealously guarded by Microsoft.

No action on 'bundling'

The settlement also does nothing to stop Microsoft 'bundling' new features into its operating system, potentially blocking competitors from selling rival software.

Microsoft will have to place an "Add/Remove" icon on the screen to make it easier for consumers and computer makers to remove programmes included in the Windows system, such as Microsoft's internet browser.

The software giant would also have to ensure that its own programmes can be deleted, not merely hidden from view, without interfering with other software programmes.

This provision is intended to give computer makers more flexibility to decide which software to install on machines they sell.

For example, AOL Time Warner could pay a computer maker to substitute Netscape for Microsoft's browser on computers.

At the moment, computer makers would have to distribute both browsers because Microsoft has made it impossible to delete its own.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's John Moylan
"The real question is whether these remedies go far enough"
US Attorney General John Ashcroft
"A competitive software industry is vital to our economy"
Matt Loney, Editor, ZDNet
"They got away very lightly indeed"
See also:

02 Nov 01 | Business
Microsoft reaches anti-trust deal
02 Nov 01 | Business
Microsoft deal 'faces delay'
24 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Microsoft's XP extends reach
06 Sep 01 | Business
U-turn on Microsoft break-up
13 Jul 01 | Business
US seeks quick end to Microsoft case
18 Oct 01 | Business
Microsoft beats expectations
19 Jul 01 | Business
Microsoft asks for court review
13 Jul 01 | Business
New Mexico breaks ranks on Microsoft
12 Jul 01 | Business
Microsoft in Windows climbdown
25 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Windows XP hits the streets
Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories