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Judge Orders Microsoft Broken in Two

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson officially issued his order today that Microsoft Corp. be split into two companies over its anti-competitive business practices.

In his final judgment, Jackson did little more than sign his name at the bottom of the breakup remedy the Justice Department submitted last month. The Justice Department plan called for Microsoft to be split into an operating systems company and an applications company, with the government retaining control over some of the divided companies’ business practices.

In his memorandum and order issued with the final judgment today, Jackson responded to some of the statements Microsoft has been making outside the courtroom and called the company “untrustworthy.”

Jackson’s memorandum skewered Microsoft for calling the remedy “draconian” and “unprecedented” in public statements.

“Microsoft’s profession of surprise is not credible,” Jackson wrote. “From the inception of this case Microsoft knew, from well-established Supreme Court precedents dating from the beginning of the last century, that a mandated divestiture was a possibility, if not a probability, in the event of an adverse result at trial.”

Jackson pointed out that there was no way for Microsoft to mistake the mood of the court when Jackson issued his Findings of Fact late last year. The judge also pointed to the extended opportunity he provided Microsoft to settle the case with the Justice Department.

In a reaction to the ruling, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates rolled out the company’s familiar public stances that a breakup goes too far, that the ruling interferes with Microsoft’s ability to innovate, and that the remedy would undermine the high-tech economy.

Equally unsurprising was Gates’ statement of Microsoft’s intentions: “This is the beginning of a new chapter in this case. We will be appealing this decision, and we believe we have a very strong case on appeal.” Scott Bekker

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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