(Washington, DC) — Statement of Ed Black, President of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) related to today’s developments concerning Microsoft and the Department of Justice:
“Albeit the eleventh hour, we are encouraged by the reports that Microsoft and the Justice Department have entered into serious negotiations aimed at resolving the anticompetitive practices which prompted state and federal officials to prepare a massive antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft.
“In order to adequately address the competition issues in our industry and bring Microsoft in full compliance with antitrust laws and principles, any settlement must:
- Require Microsoft to abide by the rules of a monopoly company;
- Prevent Microsoft from dictating what software is preloaded on PCs by computer manufacturers (OEMs);
- Prevent Microsoft from entering into exclusionary contracts with OEMs, Internet service providers (ISPs), content providers and others which effectively curtail access by Microsoft competitors;
- Establish a mechanism that can effectively address future anticompetitive behavior that could develop and determine a level of enforcement to address it;
- Prohibit Microsoft from conditioning the licensing or use of any of its operating systems (Win 95, 98 and NT) for any purpose, including the tying, whether directly or indirectly, of any other software product, including its browser software, Internet Explorer;
- Require that Microsoft fully disclose, on an equal basis, all Windows programming interfaces, including API’s and DLL’s, so that the widest range of compatible software choices interoperable with Windows for the consumer may be fostered;
- Prevent Microsoft from determining by contract what boot-up screen or menu of software, Web sites, or content is presented on the desktop to users; and what software may interoperate with Microsoft’s operating systems, including Windows 95, 98 and NT; and
- Allow OEMs to control what is first available from the control bar, not Microsoft, and allow OEMs to substitute icons of other companies for those of Microsoft.
“The bottom line is: negotiators should be asking themselves….will consumer choice be maximized by this agreement and are we settling for only a partial solution. We must remember that Microsoft’s restrictive contracts are only the tip of the iceberg and just one example of its anticompetitive practices. If Justice gives up the opportunity for formal litigation, it is important that a comprehensive and effective settlement is reached. The consequences for consumers and our economy are serious, and strong remedies are justified, and indeed essential.
“Until today, Microsoft has attempted to brush aside serious discussion of the allegations against it by claiming that such allegations are the product of disgruntled competitors. I think the possibility of litigation from authorities who concurrently, yet separately, concluded that there is substantial evidence of illegal behavior is compelling evidence that dispels the notion of ‘whiny competitors.’
“CCIA and its many members, including partners, competitors and customers of Microsoft have a 25-year history of involvement in antitrust and competition issues. We are involved, not because of narrow, even if justified, corporate interests, but because the success of our industry has always been based on vigorous competition and innovation. That is our industry’s past and needs to be our industry’s future.”
CCIA is an association of computer and communications industry firms. Small, medium and large in size, these companies represent a broad cross-section of the industry including hardware manufacturers, software developers, telecommunications and on-line service providers, re-sellers, system integrators, third-party vendors and other related business ventures. Our member companies employ over a half-million workers and generate annual revenues beyond 200 billion dollars.