Microsoft editorial was neither enlightening nor entertaining

I wish to make few points. (“Change of opinion: Microsoft and the DOJ,” CWC, April 21, 2000, page 14.)

1) You have stated in the first paragraph that “the consensus. is that the ruling will have little effect … because Microsoft’s lawyers can slog an appeal through various. courtrooms for years.”

Perhaps you would be well advised to keep up with the CBC, UP, AP, CNN or MSNBC. Judge Jackson has indicated that he will send his final ruling to the Supreme Court immediately, and the U.S. Justice Department has indicated they will ask for the same, short-circuiting the normal appeals process. This is typically done in antitrust suits of this magnitude because of the potential effect on the U.S. economy. The AT&T break-up went to the Supreme Court, and the results were in effect within two years of the final agreement. The consensus from the legal community appears to be that this thing will be all over within the next year, perhaps even sooner. This is far from the statement that you have characterized. The only potential is for the Supreme Court to remand the case to the District Appeals Court, which is possible, but the consensus on this point appears that it is unlikely to occur. The case is simply too important for our southern neighbours to allow it to drag on.

2) The remainder of your article lifts excerpts of information from a book you admit, in the very same article, may be biased. Perhaps you would have been better advised to refer to the actual Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law from the antitrust case itself. The Findings of Fact are sensational enough, and selected references to it would have been more than enough to prove the point you appeared to be making. In fact, it would have:

a) added more credibility to your statements, since they form facts entered to the legal record, rather than a book which may or may not be a fabrication; and,

b) removed the need to try to belittle Microsoft and the book’s author by playing up a very non-sensational “dispute.”

3) Just because someone does not sue another for libel does not mean the issue in dispute isn’t libel. It just means they didn’t sue them. We can infer nothing beyond the fact that no action was taken, and that neither adds or detracts from the truth or fiction behind the contents of the book.

After having read your piece, the first question which pops into my head is: what exactly is the point you are trying to make? It starts as some sort of analysis of Microsoft’s behaviour, and ends with something about things to keep in mind when buying software. Were you trying to make a point that you think a monopoly is a bad thing? That, as consumers, we have weightier decisions to make when making a purchase? That some person may or may not have made up information for a book? That Microsoft behaved as a monopoly? That the landscape would have been different under different circumstances? Frankly, I’m confused. I found the piece to be neither enlightening nor entertaining. It offers up potential conjecture, possible half-truths and a smattering of actual fact, but doesn’t do anything with it. A extremely brief side-trip into a philosophical “what if” is entered for a whole sentence.

Perhaps a focus, a direction, and some structure would be useful in trying to make a point. And please make the point. Meandering over the landscape may be fun for you, but its not very interesting for the rest of us.