The "Days of Our Lives" saga continues for computer software behemoth Microsoft.
Competitors Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and AOL Time Warner, owner of Netscape, have told the Justice Department, "It cannot be argued that Microsoft made even a good-faith effort to comply" with an antitrust settlement reached last November.
What's all the whining about? Well, besides the obvious "king of the mountain" implications, the complaint alleges that Microsoft is carrying out the court's order, all right, but is putting the required changes inside a much larger update, which is slow to download and takes up a huge amount of hard drive space. If a user chooses to purchase the update on CD, the complaint says, the $10 shipping cost is too high.
All in all, they say, the difficult-to-obtain, hard-to-use update discourages users from exercising their rights to remove Microsoft's non-operating-system products.
Microsoft says it is disappointed by the "groundless" complaints, accusing the competitors of "play[ing] politics." The company is "doing a great deal" to implement the settlement, a spokesman says.
Nine states have continued to fight the settlement, arguing that it didn't go far enough to prevent anti-competitive activity. A key element in the dispute is the limited amount of technical information Microsoft has given competitors to ensure that their products work with Microsoft's Windows operating system. A decision by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is pending.
Computer and Communications Industry Association President Ed Black says, "The cosmetic changes that Microsoft has made have no significance from a competitive standpoint. Their power, leverage and ability to intimidate and pressure people remains unchanged.'
Hewlett-Packard and Dell have announced that they're replacing Microsoft's productivity software with Corel's WordPerfect on some of their machines starting this month.
Meanwhile, those of us who actually must use their software feel a little like a tetherball, being batted around by noisy grade school kids, but held fast by a shorter and shorter rope.
[In accordance with CornerBarPR.comSM policy, the author grudgingly admits that he owns Microsoft common stock and too damn much of their software, plus some AOL Time Warner stock, as well.]