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Newsletter Section 7

From the Net

O'Reilly's response to Justice Department's investigation of Microsoft

Upon learning of the confirmed investigation of Microsoft by the federal Department of Justice, Tim O'Reilly called for Microsoft to cease its anti-competitive behavior:

“I'm delighted to hear about the Department of Justice investigation. We don't know what they'll find, but we do know that Microsoft's recent practices have been bad for users, and they have demonstrated a pattern of anti-competitive behavior. The fact of this investigation will further alert people to Microsoft's activities. I believe in the marketplace, and think that there can be a healthy impact on the marketplace from the DOJ investigation.

“Each time O'Reilly & Associates has brought a particular fact about Microsoft into the public eye, the response from Microsoft has been deceptive and confusing. In July 1996, we complained publicly about their 10-connection limit on Windows NT Workstation. In response, Microsoft removed the 10-connection limit from the code, but then kept it in the user license. Further, Microsoft made extravagant claims that they were doing this for users: they claimed that NT Workstation was just not suitable as a Web server platform. That claim inspired our Senior Editor's investigation into the actual differences between NT Workstation and NT Server. He found that, indeed, at the core, they are not very different at all.

“Microsoft doesn't need to win every battle to stifle innovation. As powerful as they are, they can determine the terms under which software development happens, and they can seriously limit important development by their anti-competitive behavior. Here's an example: when O'Reilly & Associates first developed and marketed WebSite(TM), Microsoft patted us on the back, because we were legitimizing NT as a Web server platform. But when Microsoft decided they wanted the Web server market for themselves, they used their restrictive NT 4.0 Workstation user license as a tool to frighten users against using any competitors' Web servers on that platform. Microsoft's actions have made it difficult for us, as well as all other server vendors, to compete. So what kind of industry does that create?

“Netscape has claimed that many people have been afraid to speak in fear of retribution from Microsoft. Netscape has said that now, these people will feel free to speak publicly, and I think that should prove very enlightening. I hope the Department of Justice will vigorously pursue this investigation. I also hope the public will hold Microsoft to the same high standard of business practices to which our entire industry should adhere.”

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