User reaction to MS trial mixed

While some Microsoft users are cautious about weighing in with an opinion about the ongoing legal proceedings against the software giant, others are hopeful the ultimate result will be the company’s break-up.

With the antitrust trial likely to be tied up in court for a few years, it is too soon to say what the actual impact of a final decision will be, said Larry Garden, projects manager for technical services at Brewers Retail in Mississauga, Ont. Brewers Retail uses Microsoft’s NT operating system on its stores’ point-of-sale terminals, as well as its head office’s desktops and servers, along with the Microsoft Office and BackOffice suites of products.

“I don’t think there will be a big impact right away,” Garden said. “It’s more of a ‘wait and see what happens two or three years down the road.'”

Garden said he has been dealing directly with Microsoft in recent weeks, renegotiating some of his company’s licence maintenance agreements, and all indications are that Microsoft has no intention of changing its business practices at this point.

“I have to worry about the here and now, and whether there is going to be licensing issues or extreme increases in licence costs, and I don’t see that happening just now,” he said. “If there is an impact down the road, then we’ll take that into consideration.”

The controversy surrounding the antitrust trial has not affected Vancouver-based Chevron Canada’s plans to implement Windows 2000 next year when it becomes available, according to Edmond Yee, manager of network operations for Chevron.

“We thought about it a little bit, it’s in the back of our minds, but for now it’s just business as usual for us,” Yee said.

If the trial judge ultimately rules against Microsoft and decides the company’s operating system and application divisions should be split up into different companies, Yee said, that would probably have a mild impact on his company.

“It’s going to hurt Microsoft a lot more (than Chevron),” Yee said. “As far as using Microsoft products down the road, it’s too early to tell whether or not we would need to look at other systems. It may still be OK to use Microsoft products; they just might not be as integrated as they were in the past.”

One Microsoft user who sees the company’s potential break-up as a positive move is Luc Bellerose, IT director for Primetech Electronics Inc., a Montreal contract assembly manufacturer that builds electronic products for large computer and data communications equipment suppliers.