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McNealy critical of Microsoft investments

Sun Microsystems chief says Microsoft should be forced to sell all minority investments and be banned from making new ones for five years.

Scott McNealy, chief executive of Sun Microsystems, says the government should force Microsoft to divest itself of recent investments, including its recent $5 billion stake in AT&T.

"The way I put it is: Chapter 58 in most antitrust textbooks is 'Bundling the Browser With Your Operating System.' Chapter 1 is 'Buying Your Distribution Channel,'" McNealy said in an interview with Newsweek magazine to be published tomorrow. "It's like Standard Oil buying gas stations."

Sun's top executive says that Microsoft should be given six to 12 months to sell off all minority equity investments, and then be barred from making other equity investments or buying new intellectual property for another five years or so.

McNealy, a long-time and vocal opponent of Microsoft, has no objection to the government's antitrust scrutiny of that company or others.

"I think the U.S. government was right to scrutinize IBM. They were right to scrutinize Standard Oil. They were right to scrutinize AT&T. And they're right to scrutinize Microsoft. I hope someday to be in a position where they need to scrutinize us. I hope to get there legally, and ethically and through good, hard competition," he said.

McNealy hopes Microsoft will be to revise its pricing practices, end exclusive contracts, and publish APIs or application programming interfaces, the rules of how to write programs for Windows. That would make it easier for Sun or others to work with computers that run Microsoft's Windows operating system.

"I have yet to see a customer who is disappointed when there's interoperability between two different pieces of technology," McNealy said. "I've yet to hear them say, 'Oh darn, I plugged it in and it worked. I hate that.'"