Don’t You Just Love Rooting For The Little Guy?

The ongoing blood feud between Microsoft and the Dept. Of Justice has now been abated somewhat as the DOJ has now said they will not seek a breakup of Microsoft. Instead, the DOJ will work on "procedural remedies" which could potentially dramatically alter the way in which Microsoft will be allowed to do business.

In any case, the most likely group to be screwed over are the consumers. Like them or hate them (and believe me, I do mostly hate them), Microsoft hasn’t become the de facto standard solely on the basis of supposed anti-competitive practices. Office still is the best office productivity suite in the market, and while Windows is generally unstable, Office is rock-solid. (The next version of Windows, called XP is based on a much more stable core, which means that the days of the infamous "blue screen of death" may be fading.) Whenever the government gets involved in any affair, it almost always manages to reduce innovation and increase bureaucracy. One of the reasons why the software market has been changing so much is that everyone has been running to try and catch up to the Redmond juggernaut.

The decision of the Dept. of Justice isn’t based on any amount of campaign contributions, it’s based on sound law and protecting consumers. While Microsoft does need to have some intervention in order to keep them from stifling the technology market, a breakup or extensive federal regulation is only going to hurt consumers in the end. I know it seems improbable, but Microsoft won’t be the 800lb gorilla forever. IBM ruled the roost in 1985, but soon found that the market had dramatically shifted. Microsoft is betting their future on software as a service, where users rent software rather than buy it. This strategy may propel Microsoft’s domination into the 21st Century, or it may be a massive flop. However, that’s something for consumers and the market to decide, not bureaucrats and trust busters.