Microsoft Courts 2006
This week I received my “Microsoft New York Standard Claim Form” which is the result of a settlement in a consumer fraud class action suit against Microsoft. It doesn’t say what Microsoft did wrong but they did it from May 18th, 1994 to December 31, 2004. After a little research I found the web site http://www.microsoftnysettlement.com/.
I now see that Microsoft allegedly violated New York State antitrust and unfair competition laws. If I want to take the time to read all the legalize, find my proof of purchases and fill out the forms I’m eligible for $5–$12 in vouchers for each version of Windows or Office I purchased. There is no mention of remedies for the businesses who failed due to antitrust actions.
I have to wonder if the Microsoft legal department has a larger budget than the development or research groups. It seems like we read more about Microsoft dealing with legal matters more than we hear about new releases. I’m not saying Microsoft is always guilty but they do spend a great deal of time appealing decisions when governments find them guilty of antitrust violations. Currently, Microsoft is fighting the European Union over yet to be released features in Windows Vista because they didn’t obey restrictions in a 2004 court decision.
Personally, I would rather put my faith in the developers then the lawyers. There are a lot of smart people in Redmond. I’m convinced if Microsoft wanted to, it could compete fairly against other companies and the results would be more innovation. Some products might not be hits but it would still cost them less than the lawyer and court costs.
If you want to see what antitrust action your state is doing go to http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/legal/class/