MS on Trial "[A]ll these separate entities are parts of an organism, members of a single great business. Tear them apart and who knows what will become of them?"
No, that's not Gates, Ballmer or Neukom, but Standard Oil speaking in very similar circumstances in 1909 - just one of the gems unearthed by the Computer and Communications Industry Association and Software and Information Industry Association in their joint Amici Curiae brief.
There's little wonder that the brief has hit so many buttons with trial judge Jackson. It's concise in advocating its suggested remedies, and exhaustive in deconstructing Microsoft's defence. It's bang up to date,too, citing the ILOVEYOU virus, the Kerberos shenanigans, the NGWS masterplan, and Microsoft's 'we invented toolbars' pitch.
But best of all, it's a pretty damn droll read.
The CCIA-SIAA - and we think you need a snappier acronym guys: something memorable like DONGLE, UPGRADE, or CRASH - continually return to the point that Microsoft has failed to abide by the Consent Decree in its probationary period. Which should be pretty close to the bone, as it was Jackson who signed off the Decree in 1995.
The brief actually suggests making IE open source as well as suggesting a three way split, but since that was specifically mentioned by Jackson, that caught the most publicity. The brief proposes a three-way split for two reasons. Firstly, it says, leaving IE with the Office company would reward Microsoft's anti-competitive actions towards Netscape, and cites Microsoft's Paul Maritz in support. "The most important thing we can do is not lose control of the Web client," because "[b]y controlling the client, you also control the server."
Moving the browser into its own company, argues the CCIA-SIAA "would remove the likelihood that the focus of the desktop monopoly would simply shift from the operating system to the productivity applications (with a welded-in browser)."
Unusually, it introduces a social argument by suggesting that competitors ought be able to have parity with Microsoft in creating web-based applications. "Given the importance of the browser as the universal client, the universal interface to web-based (and other server-based)computing... this parity is as critical as the parity relating to the operating system." It also suggests that an independent BrowserCo would act as a watchdog on Microsoft AppCo and Microsoft OSCo.
Warming to the theme, the brief talks up a rosy future for Microsoft BrowserCo …which it believes, "surely would sponsor its own Internet portal, and could sell placement on toolbars and channel bars." Yes, but how much would that be worth if the browser wasn't integrated into the operating system or preloaded, and its default homepage set to point to that portal? Let's ask Opera Software. The CCIA-SIAA also suggests revenues would flow from the two Microsofts, third party vendors and ASPs.
In a lovely touch, it saves its rebuttal of Microsoft's "innovation" mantra to a footnote on p48 - but an extraordinarily long footnote listing the acquisition behind almost every key Microsoft product.
You can find the brief in Adobe acrobat format, it's a 160k download, here.