- Sep 19, 2017
It is absolutely true that they've cornered the market on OS and certain software; clearly if stopping that was the goal of the Antitrust then the courts failed to deliver. Microsoft had potential to eclipse the market entirely but that was stopped by the actions mentioned prior, none of which were beneficial even if they weren't harsh enough by certain standards (including my own), but the things they said they wanted to have happen were enforced to the letter and in short order.All of those things they agreed to were more profitable for them than what they agreed to stop doing. There was a very slight dip from 2000 and this was during the implosion of the tech sector, and then a steady upward trend for nearly 10 years, only interrupted when Apple's trajectory went parabolic.
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Check out this analytic comparison of EU and US Antitrust law by Eleanor M. Fox, an actual expert in the field. She makes the case I'm making about the severity and breadth of the US' ability Antitrust law, but there is a big caveat: strict standards must be met to deploy the proverbial nuclear options. To my NAL eyes, before intervention Microsoft definitely qualified and they got a bit of a bunker-buster instead of the fat bomb they were due. After intervention they probably still qualified, but clearly at least the one judge disagrees, so the courts eased off the trigger.
I've probably been unclear, so let me state my point outright: The reason U.S. Antitrust law looks weak is not because the limits of power are weak but because the present-day standards and precedent for enforcement are so restrictive that those limits are not being reached, or even thought about.
More importantly: so far as I am aware, the laws on the books are one in the same with the laws that broke up AT&T in 1982 and actually stronger than the ones responsible for a great deal of violent dismantling in the early 20th century. Such actions could be viewed as the strongest possible Antitrust measure short of arresting and executing everyone in management, and I am not aware of any parallel in European regulatory history, or even pre-EU Antitrust in Europe. If you are aware of something like this, or of any change made to the laws that somehow neutered them between the early 80's and now, please, please share. I don't have the expertise or time to track down that sort of high-impact minutia, especially if it's been intentionally held far from prying (voting) eyes.
I've been going back and forth on this topic in several threads now and I am 100% happy to be proven wrong and move on with it if something that I'm saying is clearly or demonstrably wrong; probably won't push the Microsoft argument as a favorable one again. The problem with leaving this discussion to rot is that the next viable alternative I see proposed to "fix the courts" is to "fix the laws," and I'm generally hesitant to let any new laws get signed if the ones we have now are already strict as hell and simply not enforced. It's the same argument against new gun control laws or immigration laws, where everything going wrong is due to extremely negligent enforcement of the laws that already exist.