Did Microsoft Violate Antitrust Policy?

“The US complaint has been filed by a Tangent, a small Burlingame, California-based hardware vendor that says it is a Microsoft certified partner, but has still been “caused significant harm” by “Microsoft’s exclusionary and restrictive practices”[1]

The Northern California Company Tangent, who is also a Microsoft Certified Partner, has claimed that Microsoft has caused them “significant harm” through “exclusionary and restrictive” practices.[2]

In its complaint, Tangent describes patterns of anticompetitive practices by Microsoft.   The activities listed by Tangent incorporate the procedure of no-option bundling of Outlook (electronic mail software) with Office (a suite of word processing, financial, media and various business software) and Active Directory (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol which provide central authentication and authorization services for Windows based computers) with Windows Server (host integration).

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Tangent attorneys’ stated in the law suit, “Microsoft’s exclusionary and restrictive practices…have caused significant harm to (Tangent) by increasing, maintaining or stabilizing the price it paid for Microsoft’s operating system software above competitive levels,” [3]

In a filing with the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Tangent’s resident territory and the right of the plaintiff to file locally, is in the clear supportive position to show cause of how Microsoft has historically continued to engage in anticompetitive conduct and practices. Thereby causing irreparable financial and market damages by directly manipulating by different means in a number of forms the price Tangent has paid for Microsoft’s operating system software.  Clearly upon comparison and review the prices are openly above competitive degrees.

Tangent has been able to list in the detail the historical relation of the personal computer and the Microsoft factor.  They contend that
Microsoft, in the letter of the law as well as the spirit, has still failed to operate within number of instruction guidelines and continues to violate Section 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C., §2.

Tangent has taken on the interesting position of requesting a jury to hear the case instead of a judge.  Clearly, the intent is to appeal to peers or citizens who will hear testimony as to the unfair practices of Microsoft.  There is the grave risk on the part of the Tangent argument that the issues are very complicated and so technically that only engineers or legally trained experts can decided on the case.  It can be equally promised that Microsoft lawyers will attempt to convolute the issue to a level of complicate techno speak in order to confuse the jury and possible deadlock or mistrial.  Either way, the path for appeal is being paved.

Without the normal constraint of frank competition in the marketplace and also because of “exclusionary practices” invoked by Microsoft as a standard practice, Microsoft has been able to perform in a way that the increases the “playing field” edge in its favor. Additionally, this method employed by Microsoft works to preserve or artificially maintain prices at anti-competitive conditions that cause harm to vendors and business partners. [4]

In essence, Tangent has charged that Microsoft has artificially inflated prices for the cost of the operating system software for certified partners who have no other choice in the matter thus injuring Tangent.

One of the strongest positions taken by Tangent against Microsoft is that the Microsoft server OS (operation system) includes specific, unique, undocumented programs and screens (interfaces) accessed and employed by its servers to communicate seamlessly and tacitly with one another.  Primarily, the use of several servers (server farm) is within a multiple network server community.

“Tangent alleged further that Microsoft entered into restrictive agreements with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and system builders, limiting or eliminating their ability to feature non-Microsoft products.” [5]

Cleary, the most important aspect of the Tangents argument, which in this case can be asserted by any plaintiff, is for Microsoft to cease marketing products under the guise that the uniformity of it’s software is standardize and practical.  This is not the case nor has it been in quite a while.  The position by Microsoft does not give rise to a supportive community of certified partners.  Candidly, it causes a minor panic.

Microsoft’s secretive and clandestine modus operand lends it self to a sense of obvious guilt.  The resistance to the release of the source code for any of it’s of its operating systems underlies its non-competitive practices.

Demonstrating no lack of indignation, Microsoft has chosen not to respond to any comments on this complaint or that fact any other.  Their practice has been to only to acknowledge that the case is being reviewed.

Tangent is based in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Burlingame and builds custom configured-to-order desktops, notebooks, thin clients and servers primarily for educational institutions, government agencies, business markets and proprietary enterprises.  The company is using the Microsoft Operating Systems.

[1]  -Microsoft faces fresh US and EU antitrust complaints 23rd February 2006

[2] http://wowtechminute.com/93/antitrust-lawsuit-antithesis/ Antitrust Lawsuit Antithesis Posted by Brent Norris Technology News March 2006

[3] http://news.com.com/Computer+maker+files+antitrust+suit+against+Microsoft/2100-1014_3-6041788.html By Ina Fried Staff Writer, CNET News.com Published: February 21, 2006,

[4] http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=29797 Off at a tangent By INQUIRER staff: Monday 20 February 2006, 10:10

[5] http://www.channelinsider.com/article/Tangent+Suit+Claims+Microsoft+Soaked+Partners/171923_1.aspx  Tangent Suit Claims Microsoft Soaked Partners DATE: 21-FEB-2006 By John Hazard

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