Bonum Certa Men Certa

Novell, Microsoft, and Antitrust Action (Updated)

Looking back into the past and the present remedies

With Novell's case against Microsoft back in the headlines, the following new article emerges. It brings back memories that Novell's current management either lost or never paid attention to. The article is titled "Wrestling with the monopoly", but Novell's wrestling is akin to a pig crawling in mud looking for love rather than actually wrestling with anybody.

It possessed a large and loyal user base in both the commercial and personal consumer markets but, by 1994, its share of the word processor market had begun to crumble in the face of a remorseless marketing campaign by Microsoft, aided and abetted by Microsoft's dominance of the PC operating system market. The company was sold to Novell that year for $1.4 billion, but Novell passed it on to Corel 18 months later for just $20 million in cash and $100 million in stock.

Steve Ballmer rides SUSEWe covered these stories and showed some antitrust exhibits on several occasions in the past, so they should be fairly trivial to find in the archives. In the article, "Technical sabotage" should replace the phrase "remorseless marketing campaign" because a lot of ugly stuff has been witnessed. It's part of a pattern. Who could ever forget DR-DOS?

Fortunately, as another new article stresses, the ruling in Europe is bound to bring changes, whether its impact propagates onto decisions in other courts around the globe or not.

While the United States has somewhat similar anti-trust provisions, the application of these is more business friendly than in Europe. U.S. anti-trust aims to help consumers, whereas EU law helps competitors. Microsoft was able to settle its anti-trust case with the Bush administration, but it failed to do so with the EU. The regulatory climate in Europe is harsher than in North America.

It will be interesting to find how Novell's deal is affected by this ruling -- or rather -- how the ecosystem that includes Novell's rivals will benefit from leniency and freer interoperability.

Update: quite a major development has just occurred.

Microsoft drops SKorea anti-trust appeal

US software giant Microsoft has dropped its appeal against an anti-trust ruling in South Korea after losing a similar case in Europe, court officials said Tuesday.

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