BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Business  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
E-Commerce
Economy
Market Data
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Saturday, 2 November, 2002, 02:12 GMT
Microsoft buoyant after court ruling
Melinda and Bill Gates outside the court
Melinda and Bill Gates outside the court
A federal judge in the United States has endorsed a much contested anti-trust settlement between computer software giant Microsoft and the government, as well as nine individual American states.

Sanctions imposed on Microsoft under the settlement stand to give consumers greater choice over the software they can use whilst avoiding damage to the company.


The lesson everyone learned here is just stay out of Microsoft's way

Shane Greenstein
technology business professor, Northwestern University
Shares in Microsoft - whose Windows operating system runs nine out of 10 computers across the world - soared in after-market trading at news of the ruling by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly which came after a four-year legal battle.

The news was released after the markets closed on Friday. Nine other states believe the settlement is too lenient but the judge said she believed there was "little, if any, legitimate justification" for tougher sanctions.

Attorney General John Ashcroft welcomed the ruling as a "major victory for consumers and businesses".

Microsoft itself said it would be reviewing the ruling but was "committed to resolving [the] issues in a constructive way" as its stock jumped by $3.70, or 7%, to $56.70 a share in after-hours trading.

"We are pleased to put another step in this case behind us," said Chairman Bill Gates.

The company has long argued that the anti-monopoly suit against it was inspired by its commercial competitors.

Made to open up

The settlement was agreed in November 2001 after Microsoft was convicted of abusing its worldwide dominance by flouting competition rules.

The terms finally endorsed by Judge Kollar-Kotelly on Friday will be enforced over five years and stipulate that Microsoft

  • must release some technical data to other software developers to enable them to write programmes for Windows

  • may not retaliate against computer makers which use rival products

  • must create uniform licensing terms for its software

  • must allow manufacturers and customers to remove icons for some Microsoft features
Judge Kollar-Kotelly ordered Microsoft to hand over technical information to its rivals a lot more quickly than the original settlement had stipulated.

A corporate compliance committee made up of three outside members of Microsoft's board of directors will be created to ensure Microsoft observes the agreement.

However, the original settlement had called for an independent committee to monitor compliance.

'Microsoft wins'

Shane Greenstein, technology business professor at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, said the ruling would have a long term effect.

"The lesson everyone learned here is just stay out of Microsoft's way," he told Reuters news agency.

It was not immediately clear on Friday if the nine states still opposed to the agreement would launch an appeal.

They have been arguing that Microsoft should be made to surrender more technical information, to allow computer manufacturers greater freedom in how they arrange Windows in their systems and to allow users to remove some Microsoft features from Windows altogether.

The BBC's North America business correspondent Stephen Evans says that Friday's judgment gives some extra choice to consumers while not seriously hurting Microsoft.

Whatever happens in the courts, he says, Microsoft's dominance will continue, rivals biting at its heels rather than destroying it.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Evans reports from New York
"Microsoft is a stunningly successful company"
Dr Simon Moores, Government Technology Advisor
"In reality, things aren't changing very much"

The settlement

Appeal court ruling

Appeal hearing

Analysis
See also:

18 Oct 02 | Business
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes