Sunday, Nov. 09, 2008

'Do Not Pass Go'

Microsoft had promised the government that it wouldn't engage in monopoly practices, but in 1998 the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the company in what was viewed as the most sweeping antitrust charges in generations. The case centered on Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with its operating system, which the Justice Department argued hurt browser competitors like Netscape. In 2000 a federal judged ruled against Microsoft and agreed that it had engaged in anticompetitive practices. That ruling was overturned by an appeals court, leading to an eventual settlement in which Microsoft agreed to disclose insider information about its software and set up an antitrust advisory board. Microsoft's anticompetitive troubles spilled across the Atlantic Ocean, with a European court ordering the software giant to share its programming codes with rival companies and pay millions in fines. Microsoft operating systems are still used on more than 90% of PCs worldwide.