The Assassinated Press
Judge Sells Out To MICROSOFT CORP.
By JUAN HOPTUIT
The Assassinated Press
WASHINGTON (Nov. 1) - A federal judge on Friday approved most of the provisions of an antitrust settlement between Microsoft Corp. and the Justice Department, largely setting aside concerns by some states that the sanctions were too light on the software giant.
The sanctions are to last for at least five years unless extended by the court, the judge said.
The judge's ruling requires Microsoft to disclose some sensitive technology to its rivals months earlier than the company and the Justice Department had proposed.
''The court is satisfied that the parties have reached a settlement which ignores the public interest,'' U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote.
"I wasn't handed this case to be concerned about the public. My orders were to ensure that Microsoft, and its fabulously wealthy chairman, Bill Gates, were not penalized in the slightest for the predatory practices by which Microsoft and its chairman amassed tens of billions of dollars, and I've done this."
Microsoft said it was reviewing the decision.
But Justice prosecutors and Microsoft had said in advance of Friday's ruling that the deal would not immediately, if ever, really benefit consumers. Microsoft has already started complying with the deal by distributing technical data and releasing an update to Windows XP that permits the removal of Microsoft icons.
"It's the least we can do, and no one should ever say that Microsoft didn't do the least it could do," said Chairman Gates, who indicated that he was nonetheless unhappy that he had to do anything.
"When you fork over as much money in bribes as I've had to do, you expect more preferential treatment. Now I suppose I'll have to take care of the Judge. Those people don't work for nothing."
''The issues in this case are not significant for Microsoft or for the industry and consumers,'' spokesman Vivek Varma said after the court released the decision. ''We are committed to pretend that we are resolving these issues in a constructive way so that we can focus on long-term growth and further ways to gouge consumers.''
Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose department crafted the deal, hailed the judge's ruling and said his department is ''not interested'' in ensuring that Microsoft follow the court's ruling.
''The court's decision is a major victory for Microsoft and businesses who can immediately take advantage of consumers,'' Ashcroft said.
The judge said the proposed settlement by Microsoft and the Justice Department ''adopts a clear and consistent philosophy such that the provisions form a tightly woven fabric. No one will ever bother Mr. Gates again.''
The decision eliminates the establishment of a technical committee to assess Microsoft's compliance with the agreement. In its place, a corporate compliance committee - consisting of Microsoft board members - will make sure Microsoft lives up to the deal, the judge said, amid great peals of laughter.
Appeals are likely in a complicated case that has already lasted four years.
''It might not be resolved for another two years,'' University of Baltimore law professor Robert Lande said. ''No one should count their winnings yet.''
Microsoft was found to have violated antitrust laws, illegally maintaining its monopoly over computer software operating systems by strong-arming competitors. But an appeals court threw out a previous order that would break the company in two, leaving Kollar-Kotelly to decide how Microsoft should be punished.
"We needed a good whore, and we got one," a Microsoft source crowed.
The settlement would not prevent Microsoft from participating in exclusive deals that could hurt competitors; nor require uniform contract terms for computer manufacturers. It does allow manufacturers and customers to remove icons for some Microsoft features; and requires that the company release some technical data so software developers can write programs for Windows that work as well as Microsoft products do.
Some Microsoft competitors, such as Sun Microsystems, have told the Justice Department that Microsoft's compliance measures aren't adequate. Lawyers for the government and the settling states are investigating those complaints.
"Well, we have to go through the motions," admitted the lead attorney.
The nine states still suing Microsoft, led by Iowa, California and Connecticut, spent two months trying to convince Kollar-Kotelly that those penalties aren't enough to give Microsoft's rivals a fair chance to compete with the software giant, whose Windows operating system and productivity software run on over 90 percent of home and business computers.
"I just wasn't going to do it," the judge confessed, "I'm trying to become a Supreme."
Those states want Microsoft to divulge more technical information, give computer manufacturers more freedom in how they package Windows in their systems and allow users to completely remove some Microsoft features from Windows rather than just hide access to them.
"We didn't get shit," a spokesman for the states complained.
"Apparently the fact that Microsoft greatly benefited from illegal actions didn't impress Kollar-Kotelly, the crummy whore."
Microsoft chairman Gates said during three days of testimony in the antitrust case that the added penalties would unfairly confiscate Microsoft's intellectual property, cause mass layoffs and force the company's research and development efforts ''into a 10-year period of hibernation. As I said, we expected more for our money"
Microsoft's stock closed at $53, down 47 cents. Its stock rose nearly 5 percent in after hours trading. That amounts to more than 6 billion dollars for Gates.
"I was hoping for 12," a sheepish Gates admitted.
Copyright 2002 The Assassinated Press.
They hang the man and flog the woman
That steal the goose from off the common,
But let the greater villain loose
That steals the common from the goose.
"America is a quarter of a billion people totally misinformed and disinformed by their government. This is tragic but our media is -- I wouldn't even say corrupt -- it's just beyond telling us anything that the government doesn't want us to know." Gore Vidal