All over bar the shouting …

Between my writing this column and it being published, the IT press and analysts will no doubt have kicked into overdrive on the final settlement in the US DoJ v Microsoft antitrust case and fed until either the bones are picked clean or a fresher and more interesting carcass falls into the water.

A couple of days ago (at the time of writing anyway – I do these things a week ahead of their publication date) the final settlement was reached in the US DoJ v Microsoft antitrust case.

Between my writing this column and it being published, the IT press and analysts will no doubt have kicked into overdrive and fed until either the bones are picked clean or a fresher and more interesting carcass falls into the water. Since the subject is Microsoft, all the usual suspects will push their usual barrows and we, the average Joes, will be left really none the wiser.

To be totally honest, I’d almost forgotten about the settlement being due but I was at a Guy Fawkes party with a Microsoft staffer with whom I occasionally indulge in an ale or three and, naturally enough, the subject of work came up. As soon as you start talking work with someone from Microsoft, the subject of the DoJ’s never far down the list.

Anyway, having not analysed the settlement document yet, he didn’t have an inside track into the whole thing either. In fact he was fairly blasé about it. His view is that Microsoft, like any successful business, will adapt to the new rules of engagement and continue to be successful. Why should it be any other way? Despite the fevered dreams of Scott McNealy, Larry Ellison and the open source guys, the DoJ’s role isn’t to regulate successful companies out of business. Nor is it its role to tell them how to do their business. That wouldn’t be very American now, would it?

The big beef is still the browser. Yes, Microsoft has shown that it will try and manipulate the content that is accessed via its browser. Yes, Microsoft has shown that it will try and guarantee the market penetration of its browser by embedding it in its market-dominating desktop operating system. And, as we all know, the browser is just the tip of the iceberg. So what? That’s really just trying to be a bit clever about how you do business. Let’s get real here, on the global scale of cynical corporate manipulation of people and marketplaces, Microsoft barely twitches the needle.

Get over it and make your decisions about what software you buy and use based on real, tangible business costs and benefits, not some half-baked ideal of how the software business should work.

Erratum? Err, maybe not …

Not surprisingly, considering the comment I made in my October 29 column (Your mission, Jim …) I had a voicemail message left for me by a man from Citrix early last week. He’d taken umbrage at my assertion that Tarantella was a cheaper product. At $299 per seat its licence price is quite definitely only about half that of the equivalent Citrix version, but in his message he said something about infrastructure and TCO that sounded worth having a chat about. Having had a busy week I didn’t manage to get hold of him, but I’ll be giving him a ring to hear what he has to say. More on this next time.

Swanson is IT manager at W Stevenson & Sons. Send email to Jim Swanson. Send letters for publication to Computerworld Letters.

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