A good decision for ISVs
Thursday, June 28, 2001 by Dave Winer.
If you've been paying attention this morning I'm sure you already know that the US Appeals Court decision has been issued in the Microsoft antitrust case. I'm reading it now between interviews. The initial spin has been that it's a victory for Microsoft, and that's understandable based on reading the first few pages, but keep going, they affirm almost all of the lower court's rulings, with gusto.
I found myself cheering at places where the judges stood up for the rights of independent developers, especially in regard to Microsoft's acts to undermine Netscape (and Web developers) and to thwart Java and its developers who legitimately wanted Write Once Run Anywhere (WORA). While they chastized Jackson for improprieties they didn't have any special affection for Microsoft, calling them on outright lies, and at one point calling their excuses "lame".
In the past it was very difficult to be a developer with integrity, because the rules were so perverted by the misbehavior of the largest companies in our industry, not just Microsoft. The judges put in writing some basic principles about how platform vendors must deal with independent developers. Now it seems the next step is for a new trial, and although I'm not a lawyer it seems only reasonable, given the number of violations of antitrust law that Microsoft has been found guilty of, that some protections be put in place immediately to stop Microsoft from doing more harm while the new trial is proceeding.
A common question in the interviews has been "Is this in any way related to Microsoft's withdrawal of Smart Tags yesterday?" and I think not, except that this might a time for reflection at Microsoft on its overall way of doing business. The next hot issue, although does not appear to be an issue for integrity in Web writing, will be the tying of Windows XP to Passport and HailStorm.
At any point in this process Microsoft could decide to change the way it does business. It's still probably not too late to do that.