Microsoft's 2002 antitrust settlement with the Department of Justice expires today. The original antitrust lawsuit was filed in 1998 against Microsoft's alleged violation of antitrust laws by illegally maintaining a monopoly in PC operating systems. The aim was to stop Microsoft abusing their Windows market domination.
The DOJ say that it "helped open the computer industry to greater competition and innovation across the technology sector," adding that the settlement "created market conditions that have allowed all sorts of new products and services" to challenge Microsoft's Windows platform.
Back in 2002, Microsoft's rule over the industry seemed immovable. Much has changed since then with the growth in web search propelling Google to the top; the explosion in Social Networking opening up a whole new market; and more recently the explosion within the smartphone and tablet markets. The computing landscape has evolved immeasurably.
However, the settlement has done little to alter Microsoft's monopoly on the personal computer market. Back in 2002, Microsoft Windows had a 93.9% share of the desktop and laptop OS market. Today, that share is still 91.1%
It is the dominance of Windows and Microsoft's Office productivity suite of applications that give the company the freedom to invest in other sectors. Most notable is their $8.5 billion purchase of Skype this week. Their continued investment in their search engine, Bing, and mobile phone market is only possible because of the success of Windows and Office.
The consent decree may not have dramatically altered the reach of Microsoft Windows, but they acknowledge that it altered the company and its culture. "Our experience has changed us and shaped how we view our responsibility to the industry," Kevin Kutz, Microsoft's director of public affairs, said in a statement.
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