Monday, January 19, 2009

Microsoft's Antitrust Crop Still Blooming

Microsoft is again in the news for antitrust issues, this time in a browser-based antitrust prosecution involving the EU -- one of the jurisdictions that's actually held Microsoft to a financial penalty.

Microsoft's enormous cash flow is hardly staunched by paltry couple-of-billion-dollar penalties, but it raises interesting questions about Microsoft's intended strategy to lock clients into proprietary file formats (e.g., crippled, patent-governed XML schemas no other vendor can access), and the like.  Assuming Microsoft plans building market power on the basis of MSFT-only formats protocols, Microsoft will continue to march its business plans into the offices of EU regulators.  Heck, maybe into other regulators' offices, too, assuming anyone cares to conduct genuine enforcement.

What's the future like if Microsoft actually tries to avoid antitrust problems?  How would Microsoft compete if its users had -- hard to imagine, I know -- genuine choice in vendor?  Is that even a viable model for Microsoft?

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