DoJ oversight of Microsoft ends

After eight and a half years under the watchful eye of the Department of Justice, Microsoft has emerged with some believing that the settlement did little to change the landscape.  However, since 2002, the technology landscape has changed in unexpected ways since the original settlement, with the advent of social networking, and explosive growth in the mobile sector.  The statement released by the DoJ states that the intervention of the justice system enabled:

...the marketplace to operate in a fair and open manner bringing about increased innovation and more choices for consumers. The final judgment also prevented Microsoft from continuing to engage in exclusionary behavior that was harmful to American businesses and consumers.

At the time of the judgment, Microsoft controlled about 94% of the OS market, and now controls about 91%.  One might wonder that, why hasn't Microsoft's market share dropped more?  It has -- but in other markets.  At the time of the final judgement in 2001, Internet Explorer commanded 95% of the browser market share.  Now, according to Net Applications, IE's share has been reduced to 53% as of April. There are certainly other browsers out there: Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari to name a few. It's also now possible to have non-Microsoft software installed with new computers, as this was a component of the antitrust judgment against Microsoft.  Taking this a step further, in 2010, the EU required Microsoft to add a browser ballot to Windows 7 to help users become more aware of alternate browsers.

During the period of oversight, Microsoft was very careful to prevent unwanted attention, according to Al Gillen, and analyst with IDC (courtesy of Network World), stating that,

"Microsoft was less ambitious or aggressive about going into emerging market opportunities because it struggled to figure out ways to go after them without running afoul of antitrust issues"

Certainly, it seems as though Microsoft is playing catch-up in multiple arenas, from IE to WP7 -- which will lead to better products for everyone, as they will have to innovate to compete with companies that are already entrenched in these new markets.

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