While rivals felt vindicated by a ruling that
Microsoft broke federal laws by using monopoly powers to crush
competition, many said it will take stringent penalties to loosen
the software maker's grip on the industry.
"Microsoft's power is every bit as strong even greater than
when this case started," said Michael Morris, chief general
counsel for Sun Microsystems, following Monday's ruling that
Microsoft unlawfully tied its Web browser to the Windows operating
system to extend its dominance to the Internet.
Morris said the courts now must come up with "significant
remedies to break Microsoft's hold on the browser market."
Sun, one of Microsoft's most bitter foes, maintains that the
world's largest software company has long used bullying tactics and
programming tricks to keep rival products from running on
Another old foe made no attempt to hide his pleasure at a
"The judge seems to have agreed pretty conclusively with what
we said for four and a half years, that these guys would stop at
nothing," said Jim Barksdale, former chief executive of Netscape
Communications, whose once-dominant browser was pummeled by
Barksdale, who left Netscape after it was acquired by America
Online to run his own venture capital company, the Barksdale Group,
said the ruling was "very gratifying and vindicating for the
people who worked so hard at Netscape.
"But I would like to think what it might have been if not for
Microsoft breaking the law. Netscape would have been Yahoo! by now.
It would have been the largest company in the Internet space," he
Observers on all sides of the debate agreed that U.S. District
Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's decision still doesn't resolve the
uncertainty over how Microsoft might be punished or whether its
dominant Windows operating systems might lose market share any time
"It's just one step in the process," said John Thompson, a
spokesman for Dell Computer Corp., which has traditionally
maintained a close relationship with Microsoft. "It's still
several months before you get to anything more, and even longer
with the appeals process."
Investors, just as they did in November when Jackson first ruled
Microsoft a monopoly, immediately flocked to the shares of
companies that make Linux, an increasingly popular operating system
that is an alternative to Microsoft's Windows software.
Analysts said it was too early, however, to tell whether the
court case would have any tangible benefit for leading Linux
players such as Red Hat and Corel.
That won't stop those rivals, though, from using Monday's
verdict in arguments to woo potential customers away from the
software platform used in 95 percent of the world's personal
"The fear that Microsoft products will become unavailable seems
completely unfounded, but I wouldn't at all be surprised to hear
that some vendor said, `This could make Microsoft products
unavailable, so buy ours,"' said Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at the
research firm IDC
"People who have already made commitments (to Windows) will
continue to go down that path," he added. "But for people who are
still considering what to do, the fear may be enough to change