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Resellers indifferent to DOJ ruling

Resellers indifferent to DOJ ruling

As Microsoft reels from the Department of Justice's historic recommendation the monopoly must be broken in two, local resellers believe the decision will have very little short-term effect on the channel.

Sounding angry, incredulous and defiant, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and president and CEO Steve Ballmer blasted the Department of Justice on Friday (US time), vowing to fight the government's proposal that the software giant be regulated and broken into two companies.

Gates, Ballmer, and William Neukom, Microsoft's chief lawyer, called the Justice Department's proposed punishment of Microsoft in the wake of the company's conviction on antitrust charges "very disturbing", "unprecedented and radical", "extreme", and "dangerous".

"This is really out of bounds, really out of touch with what's going on in our industry," Gates said.

Resellers in contact with ARN prior to the decision last Friday were cautious about predicting Microsoft's future regardless of the DoJ decision.

"It is not up to us to speculate," said Com Tech's director of technical marketing, Darron Lonstein. "From our point of view it is business as usual with Microsoft. We aren't modifying anything in our relationship."

Powerlan's Theo Baker said while he thinks the breakup of Microsoft would be a positive move, he didn't think it would change the way the company operates.

"It would allow more organisations to be innovative without being quashed by a large company," he said.

Praxa executive Dennis Woolcock said he thought the decision would have no effect on the channel.

"I don't think it's over by a long shot - Microsoft have indicated that they will appeal the breakup so it could go on for quite a while. Meanwhile, we are a solution provider so we will keep using the technologies whether the company is split up or not."

Microsoft Australia's marketing director, Peter Cray, said Microsoft would certainly appeal a decision to break up the company.

"There has been nothing in the court proceedings or rulings which would justify a break up of the company," he said.

According to Microsoft lawyer Neukom, the company will meet US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's May 10 deadline to answer the Justice Department's proposal, but will seek to lengthen the remedies process because "the government's excessive demands will require months of hearings and discovery." Neukom said that a direct appeal of the final case to the Supreme Court was highly unlikely.

He also questioned the government's focus on Microsoft Office in the remedies as surprising because the original case focused on Windows and the Internet Explorer browser. That will be a key factor in Microsoft's eventual appeal, he said.

"They are seeking relief that has nothing to do with the lawsuit because the industry has moved past the issues addressed in the lawsuit," Neukom said.


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