The US government's victory in its antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft will have no discernible impact on end users, according to researcher Gartner.
Speaking at the company's Spring Symposium in Florence today, Gartneranalyst Tom Bittman said the ruling and punishment would not affect the company's software pricing or its licensing agreements.
Microsoft lost its titanic battle with the US Department of Justice and 19 states after a judge ruled that it had abused its monopoly in the software market. The company is now waiting to hear its fate.
One possible punishment is that the court would break Microsoft up. "But this would not be a problem for end users as it would just mean dealing with several companies instead of one," said Bittman.
Although Microsoft does not want to broken up, it would not be too painful because it has already restructured itself in a way that prepares it for this outcome, he said.
"In fact, the entire issue that the case centred on is becoming a non issue," said Bittman. "The landscape has changed and the next battle is for ISPs, not desktops. If the appeal goes on for another two years, then it will be too late to make any difference."
Bittman said he expects Microsoft to settle out of court, and to do this it may open up the code for its Windows 95 and 98 operating systems. This is one of the ways that the ruling may affect the vendor community.
"This may keep the US government happy and it is not strategically damaging to Microsoft. Licensing Windows 2000 code is much less likely. We have asked vendors if this happened would they use the code to build their own version of Windows 2000, but the answer was a resounding 'no'. Microsoft may only do this as it knows no one would take it up on the offer," said Bittman.
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