Judge Orders Microsoft Breakup; Company to Appeal
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson has ordered Microsoft be split into two separate enterprises, one focusing on operating system software, and the other encompassing Microsoft’s other business interests, ranging from office applications and hardware to games and online services. This ruling comes during the penalty phase of the Microsoft antitrust trial; Microsoft has repeatedly claimed it will appeal any decision against it, and also says it would resist any government action to bypass the appeals process via an expedited hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court. (See TidBITS’s previous coverage of Microsoft antitrust issues). In his final judgment, Judge Jackson requires Microsoft to submit a divestiture plan within four months and to adhere to a series of interim restrictions on its business practices until three years after the divestiture is complete. Microsoft’s spin-off businesses would have to remain separate for at least ten years. Despite the definitive tone of the order, however, don’t expect anything to change soon. Microsoft is likely to seek an injunction against the interim measures, and the appeals process for the entire case may drag out two or more years before before any breakup goes into effect.