Softwariness

Softwariness

Softwariness

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
April 4 2000 7:29 AM

Softwariness

Everybody leads with yesterday's ruling by a federal judge that Microsoft's methods of maintaining the market dominance of its Windows operating system, particularly as regards the way it tied Windows to its Web browser product, Internet Explorer, violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. With the exception of the New York Times, the fronts pair the decision with yesterday's 7.6 percent dive in the Nasdaq.

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Everybody but USA Today quotes the ruling as concluding that "Microsoft placed an oppressive thumb on the scale of competitive fortune." Also widely quoted is Joel Klein, the DOJ's antitrust point man: "This opinion will ... set the ground rules for enforcement in the Information Age." As is Bill Gates' assessment that "this ruling turns on its head the reality that consumers know--that our software has helped make PCs affordable to millions."

Jackson sided with the government on three of its four charges of monopolistic behavior (and, note the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal, accepted 23 of the 26 arguments the DOJ made), disagreeing only in the case of Microsoft contracts with Internet companies, which the judge found restricting to rival browser Netscape but not totally exclusionary. The Washington Post and NYT emphasize that the opinion now leaves Microsoft vulnerable to numerous private antitrust suits. Perhaps, observes the Post, including a suit by AOL, on the theory that its Web browser, Netscape, was harmed by Microsoft. And many experts reached by the papers say the ruling makes possible a powerful remedy. The two main types of remedy the coverage anticipates: 1) actually breaking the company up; or 2) the issuance of a number of court-ordered changes to the company's marketing practices. Only USAT mentions the possible breakup in its headline.

The papers note the slightly antiquarian feel to the matters decided in the case: The browser wars seem like ancient history, and the action-center of the software market has moved from the PC to the Internet. But when the WSJ mentions this, it strives to make the case that the marketing patterns excoriated by Judge Jackson are being replicated today by Microsoft on other fronts--the example the paper dwells on is the current competition between Microsoft and RealNetworks over software for Web delivery of audio and video.

The Post and the two Times front word that French NATO troops captured a Bosnian Serb leader wanted on genocide charges stemming from the 1992-95 war in Bosnia. The papers describe the man as one of the three most sought after by the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.

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The WP fronts the Maryland legislature's vote last night to make the state the first in the country to require built-in locks for all new handguns. This despite, the paper reports, a considerable advertising countereffort by the NRA. Another important feature of the bill: It requires gun buyers to take two hours of safety training.

The LAT fronts the filing of stealing charges against Dana Giacchetto, a money manager for the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Michael Ovitz, and the members of Phish. Giacchetto is suspected of taking $6 million from his star clients. The FBI is expecting him to surrender in New York today.

A WSJ front-page feature documents how a new breed of financial planner is using the techniques of psychiatry and New Ageism to help free up clients from the psychological blocks that keep them from saving money or making the right kinds of investment. Sessions are led by financial advisers, Kleenex box at the ready, with tip-top "intimacy skills," not to mention a mastery of Sufi texts. It's all part of society's flexible healing response to the travails of being newly rich. If you experienced the heavy burden of a sudden "liquidity event," wouldn't you want to go on a weeklong boat excursion down the Loire, accompanied by financial planners, lawyers, and a psychiatrist? Wouldn't getting rid of $15,000 for the privilege make you feel better already?

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