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It Don't Mean a Thing
Week of June 28, 2001
Microsoft's Nasdaq star rose, others fell, but the CADC ruling doesn't really change a thing.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (CADC) ruled today on the planned breakup of Microsoft. While news of the release of their 'opinion' immediately set MSFT stock rising and competitors' stocks falling, what really matters to computer users has not changed at all.
The CADC objected to TP Jackson's holding press interviews before the decision was in, and even if we understand why TP reacted as he did we know that his actions as a judge were not right. It might have been asking a lot for him to withhold comment what with all the crapola Microsoft's attorneys were dumping in his court, but TP as a human being, one of us, and TP as a judge who must reach a decision which cannot be overturned are two entirely different things. The CADC understood this.
Nasdaq sharks are jubilating because Microsoft will not yet be broken up, not because the CADC declared Billg to be lily white. For although the CADC did censor TP's behaviour it did not take issue with his ruling on Microsoft's dirty dealings: Microsoft has been and still is a dastardly monopoly which has illegally abused its market position. But the sanctions against Microsoft must be ruled on again, and by a new judge.
All of which doesn't mean diddley to us the consumers. For us the ruling is an ethical one: We need to hear it from on high, we need to see that the forces of good prevail against the forces of evil. No matter the cutthroat nature of the free market economy, there must be a certain modicum of business ethics in play. Billg ignores business ethics and so he must be sanctioned.
What Nasdaq sharks are counting on is Microsoft's ability to bully any product it wants onto us consumers. We do not like .NET - in fact we oppose it vehemently - but the sharks really believe this will not matter in the final analysis. They see the immense power of Microsoft to manipulate the market as quite enough to get us to use the MS shite no matter what we really think.
There is something inherently distasteful in that kind of cynical view of humanity. There is something inherently repulsive in the thought that these megabuck suits really think our opinions mean so little. What more fitting retribution then than to prove them wrong and send them to the poorhouse to boot.