Price of Antitrust: $4 billion and climbing

Does software crime pay?

On paper, it looks like it does. And very well.

Over at, Daniel Eran Dilger gives a short history of how Microsoft, embraced, extended and extinguished through the eighties and nineties. In the end it turns, out Microsoft has paid more than $4.2 billion in antitrust and patent infringements, not counting the impending EU (European Union) settlement.

Legal System Catches Up a Decade Later.
Those cases between Apple and Microsoft established that the legal system wasn’t going to prevent or curtail criminal behavior in software development, but could only offer at best a review of copy infringement well after the damage was done....By the end of the 90s, reality reigned in on Microsoft and it began racking up a series of settlement obligations it was forced to pay to other victims of its copy-killing efforts and related anti-trust actions:

    • Microsoft paid Caldera $275 million for its antitrust actions against DR-DOS.
    • Microsoft recently settled with IBM in an antitrust suit involving OS/2 and IBM’s Lotus SmartSuite applications to the tune of $775 million.
    • Microsoft paid Novell $539 million to settle its antitrust suit over the NetWare operating system, and Microsoft is still being sued by Novell over claims related to WordPerfect.
    • Microsoft paid Palm over $23 million to settle an antitrust suit over the unfinished BeOS.
    • Microsoft settled with Sun in an agreement that included $700 million in antitrust and $900 million in patent infringements, both related to Java.
    • Microsoft paid AOL $750 million to settle the antitrust suit over Netscape.

Of course, Microsoft has earned far more than they paid out.

At the same time, one can say that Microsoft is more or less hamstrung now:

  • the level of mistrust from other software developers is insurmountable
  • the regulatory bodies in both the US and more particularly the EU are watching Microsoft's every move
  • consumers don't trust them either
  • open source continues to knock down walls
  • legacy code support hinders good developers from writing clean apps
  • their marriage with the devil of DRM (digital rights management) makes their OS unwieldy and alienates the consumer still further

We are running our offices on Open Office and couldn't be happier. There are some issues with shortcuts in the spreadsheet application (the one good product in the whole Microsoft portfolio is Excel).

But we have ten computers over three operating systems working in perfect sync, all on the same open source software with a little help from Google Apps. We are running some Windows XP, but mainly for testing and as a bridge to Linux (Linux is getting better and so are we - we are acquiring the skills necessary for a successful implementation: previous staff was familiar with Windows).

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