Microsoft Found Guilty as Charged

Despite a storm of commotion surrounding U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson’s ruling that Microsoft Corp. is guilty of maintaining its monopoly through predatory and anti-competitive means, the legal battle is far from over.

In his Conclusions of Law issued April 3, Judge Jackson stated that Microsoft ( violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by abusing its monopoly over the operating system market.

In particular, he determined that Microsoft illegally gained browser market share by tying Internet Explorer to Windows, and that the company acted to deter Netscape Navigator from being bundled with PCs.

The report also stated that Microsoft acted to prevent Sun Microsystems Inc.’s ( Java from being used in the market.

"Only when the separate categories of conduct are viewed, as they should be, as a single, well-coordinated course of action does the full extent of the violence that Microsoft has done to the competitive process reveal itself," Jackson wrote in the report.

The Conclusions of Law closely follow the Findings of Fact issued by Judge Jackson last fall. There was one divergence: the Conclusions of Law stated that Microsoft did not violate anti-trust laws with its marketing agreements with PC makers.

"Today’s ruling was not unexpected," said Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, in a press conference on Microsoft’s Redmond campus. "But there are several steps ahead in this case."

Gates said his company still wants to resolve the case. Officials from the Justice Department also expressed a willingness to reopen settlement talks. Reports, however, speculate that a settlement is unlikely at this point -- particularly for the government to agree to anything less than a breakup after the harsh ruling from Judge Jackson.

Microsoft’s senior vice president of law and corporate affairs, Bill Neukom, indicated at the press conference that Microsoft plans to appeal on the basis of the procedure imposed upon Microsoft, questions of law, and findings that Microsoft believes are inadmissible for not passing hearsay requirements.

"It will be a broad reaching appeal by Microsoft," he said.

Neukom expects the remedies phase of the case to take a few months. Beyond that, a ruling may take up to a year.

Company president Steve Ballmer remained as positive as possible.

"Until the appeal is over, nothing is settled," he said.