Windows in Dispute
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An appeals court ruling last week ostensibly left Microsoft's ability to add new features to its ubiquitous Windows platform open to question.
Although the sought-after break-up of Microsoft was thrown-out by the US appeals court last week, Microsoft's controversial 'tying' together of stand-alone applications under the aegis of Windows is allegedly still under the spotlight. An appeals panel has asked a new judge to review the so-called tying charge, opening the door for the US Department of Justice and various states to contest Microsoft's controversial practice of incorporating new, stand-alone features into its dominant operating system.
Currently RealNetworks and other vendors of digital music players are claiming unfair competition from Microsoft due to XP's inclusion of an analogous product. Aside from a digital music player, XP showcases a wide array of additional stand-alone apps, making it an open target for review.
According to analysts an out-of-court settlement that addresses the 'tying' issue is the most likely outcome of the proceedings. Should settlement talks collapse, however, the US government is likely to take the tying claim to the Supreme court or re-argue its case in the District court. As is, even though it has failed to achieve the desired break-up, the US government has proven in effect that Microsoft had illegally abused its Windows monopoly by engaging in a pattern of anti-competitive conduct.
Microsoft, however, remains upbeat that last weeks appeal court ruling left it with the upper hand. "We believe that the court of appeals has created a framework for this issue which will be very hard for the government to meet in order to prove that Microsoft's innovative product design somehow harms competition," stated Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan.