Government looks to break giant Microsoft in two

The government and some states ask the court to break up the software giant into two companies, leading the landmark antitrust case against Microsoft into its final phase.

CNET News staff
2 min read

Today's proposal marks the latest step in the historic antitrust suit against Microsoft--a case that has sharply divided the technology industry. While many claim Microsoft's domination has benefited consumers by making computers accessible to millions of users, others accuse the company of using its position to squash competition.


   How Microsoft would be  split under the Justice  Department proposal
The "Operating Systems Business" includes OS products for computing devices such as:
• personal computers based on the Intel x-86 architecture and other microprocessors
• servers
• handheld devices such as personal digital assistants and cellular telephones
• TV set-top boxes

The "Applications Business" includes products such as:
• Office
• Internet Explorer
• BackOffice
• Internet Information Server
• SQL Server
• Mobile Explorer and other Web browsers
• streaming audio and video software
• Mobile Explorer
• SNA server software
• XML servers and parsers
• Java virtual machines
• Frontpage Express
• Outlook Express
• Media player
• Net Meeting
• Slate
• Expedia
• "all investments owned by Microsoft in partnerships or joint ventures"
By CNET News.com staff
April 28, 2000, 5:30 p.m. PT
Government to judge: Break up Microsoft
update The Justice Department and several states ask a federal judge to break Microsoft into two companies to prevent it from further abusing its monopoly position in the software market.

Full text of government proposal Industry says too little, too late
news analysis Many in the high-tech industry view the proposal as ineffective at best and, at worst, an ill-conceived action that addresses obsolete issues.

Is a breakup an effective solution?
Given the mixed history of antitrust litigation, legal experts are dubious that consumers will reap direct rewards from a breakup of the software giant--and question the viability of aging monopoly laws.

No major changes likely for consumers
The proposed division of Microsoft probably wouldn't mean any drastic changes for consumers, at least in the near term. And the reasons may be as simple as old habits that are hard to break.

Longtime rivals savor the moment
Although the wisdom of today's government proposals remains an open question, competitors that have long endured Microsoft's dominance could not help but relish the proposed remedy.

Microsoft shares bear the burden
The case has taken its toll on Microsoft investors--dragging down other stocks in the process--and it's unclear whether the cloud hanging over the shares will lift anytime soon.

Gates loses title as world's richest man
update On the day that the government proposes breaking his company into two pieces, Microsoft's chairman watches his net worth surpassed by Oracle chief Larry Ellison.

previous coverage
Judge rules Microsoft violated antitrust laws
update A federal judge issues a stinging rebuke of Microsoft, saying the software giant violated antitrust laws.

The trial basics: Key questions and players
FAQ After more than 18 months in and out of the courts, it may be getting a little tough to keep track of the Microsoft antitrust trial.