02.09.09

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Microsoft: The Cronies, the Pressure, and Staff Reductions

Posted in Antitrust, Google, Microsoft at 4:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft Cronies

Microsoft has several cronies inside the US DOJ, one of whom is Thomas Barnett. We wrote about his relationship with Microsoft only a couple of weeks ago. Here he is commenting on Yahoo-Google and Reuters says nothing about the conflict of interests (nor does the government that appointed Barnett).

Thomas Barnett, who led the investigation of Google’s scrapped deal with Yahoo when he headed the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said tying the lucrative search divisions of Yahoo with Microsoft could be a tough call for regulators.

“Any ‘three to two merger’ to my mind would require a significant investigation,” said Barnett, who stepped down in November after three years as head of the division.

Why is a person with Microsoft money in his pocket getting to decide on this? The story above makes a classic example of political corruption in action. Meanwhile, things are rather tough for Yahoo! if this report from the Wall Street Journal is anything to judge by.

Carol Bartz has been CEO of Yahoo for only few weeks. But she’s already working through a to-do list of changes to push. (Nothing yet about Microsoft deals or asset sales or cost-cutting, we’re afraid.)

In the most recent of what’s shaping up to be a weekly email to Yahoo employees, the blunt Ms. Bartz laid down some mandates in a memo last Friday.

First, cease the tardiness. “Let’s all work hard to start meetings on time,” she wrote, according to people familiar with the email.

She also implored the company to stop talking about “silos.” If she hears the word “one more time I am going to think I am back on the farm in Wisconsin,” she wrote.

Lastly, plug the leaks. Referring to the fact that someone forwarded her first company-wide email to some blogs, she wrote: “I hope whoever did it, feels bad enough to come forward and resign.”

Yahoo has its share of pains, which were largely inflicted by Microsoft. Here is a chronological list of some previous posts on this subject:

It seems abundantly clear what Microsoft is doing as a matter of strategic pattern.

“I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into into the death spiral. I could do it Friday afternoon but not Saturday. I could do it pretty much any time the following week.”

Brad Silverberg, Microsoft

Microsoft Hardballs

Some days ago we stumbled upon an old article which concerns Microsoft antitrust exhibits that were not allowed to be admitted as evidence. This is interesting because we possess a high number of Comes (Iowa) exhibits which, despite being very real, might be too confidential, sensitive and serious to be presented publicly (well, at least without getting sealed).

A memo by Microsoft’s Jim Durkin recalled a meeting by Gates and other executives in which Gates said of RealNetworks: “This is a strategic area, and we need to win it.”

The same memo dated June 5, 1997, quotes another senior Microsoft executive, Robert Muglia, as saying that RealNetworks is “like Netscape, the only difference is we have a chance to start this battle earlier in the game”.

All those memos sure bring back a flavour of Netscape, to which Microsoft applied similar forces and dirty tactics. It’s truly a shame that the European Union is slow to respond, but “better later than never” they say. Here is another belated report about pretty old news:

The European Commission has accused Microsoft of harming competition by bundling its Explorer web browser with its Windows operating system.

The commission said it had reached the preliminary view that the US software giant had undermined consumer choice and infringed EU rules.

Microsoft and the European Union have engaged in legal battles over competition issues for years.

Last year, the EU fined Microsoft 899m euros ($1.4bn; £680.9m).

There are other behavioural disturbances showing up in the news this week.

When Microsoft does not send its 'partners' to prison, the company sure puffs a lot of hot air. it’s posing as a victim.

Microsoft today announced settlements with 15 traders caught selling illegal software in regions throughout the UK. One reseller agreed a £75,000 settlement after customer complaints revealed he was illegally reselling Microsoft Windows recovery discs, many of which didn’t work. A further 14 traders faced court action in respect of hard disk loading1 and selling improperly licensed software to unsuspecting customers over the last six months.

These people are, according to Microsoft, actually helping the monopolist. Or at least they used to until Microsoft got miserable and hit a barrier.

The news about Bill Gates' weird mosquitoes incident continues to receive critical coverage from mainstream publications. Here is IT Pro (UK):

Bill ‘Super Villain’ Gates does a Steve ‘Monkey Dancing’ Ballmer

[...]

The media has grabbed this as evidence that Gates has gone insane. However, I have another theory: he is just fed up with Steve Ballmer getting all the headlines and so decided to take a leaf out of the Monkey Dancer Marketing Manual. Either that of his money really has made him mental and Gates will next be seen wearing a spandex bodysuit, cape, mask and insisting on being known from now on as Mosquito Man the least scary super villain in history.

This queer scene is likely to be well remembered and no apology was issued on the face of it, let alone regrets that ought to be expressed.

Microsoft Workforce

An issue that we covered before is Microsoft’s faceoff with an American senator [1, 2, 3]. Rightly enough he was dissatisfied with the company’s betrayal of American workers, so a sort of bar has just been put in place to impose on Microsoft a form of permanent restriction.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), introduced an amendment to the $900 billion stimulus package that would bar companies that received bailout funds from hiring foreign skilled workers with H1-B work visas, AFP is reporting. The amendment was co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).

This move comes after Grassley last week asked Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to lay off H1-B workers before Americans after the company announced it was going to cut 5,000 employees.

The outcome of Microsoft’s staff collapse begins to bear news, such as the firing of an employee who got a Microsoft tattoo. Is this the type of love he gets back?

It’s generally a good rule of thumb to avoid tattoos of your company’s logo.

For Microsoft solutions adviser Dan Woodman, that advice, unfortunately, came a little too late.

Analysts suppose that more layoffs will come to Microsoft pretty soon. The cuts were not sufficiently deep and they cannot stabilise the balance sheet, so the company is approaching debt [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] whilst trying to feed off of Linux' success.

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