Microsoft is using its shareholders as a human shield to try and protect itself from punishment by the US Government for abusing its monopoly power, according to Larry Ellison, Oracle's chairman and chief executive.
His statement, at the software supplier's Openworld user conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, followed a ruling a couple of weeks ago by Judge Penfield Jackson in the antitrust trial against the software giant.
The judge found that Microsoft was a monopoly and had abused its market power, but a verdict and decision about how to deal with the supplier is still pending despite widespread rumours of a possible breakup.
Ellison claimed: "It's like saying Microsoft has been robbing banks. The Government has said it's noticed, but nothing has changed. It's still got the money from the banks, no remedy has been proposed and nothing has changed. And Microsoft is betting that the Government won't do anything."
He continued: "Bill [Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief executive] is saying the Government can't touch me because it will hurt little widows and infants, so you can't hurt the stock price. So he's got a shield and the hostages are Microsoft shareholders."
"He's saying if you hit me, you'll hit my shareholders, which creates a financial dilemma for the Government because a lot of Jo Public owns Microsoft shares. The hostages are standing between Microsoft and the Government," Ellison added.
He also professed to be upset about Gates' pleas to allow his company to introduce innovation into the software market without Government interference.
"I find it incredibly appalling that Microsoft destroyed the most innovative company in Silicon Valley [ie Netscape]. The fact that the biggest, most powerful company in the world drove the most innovative company in the world out of business really bothers me", he attested.
"That Microsoft destroyed the most innovative company in the world for a chance to innovate is the most astounding lie. It's a very cynical statement. To destroy innovation in the name of innovation is very upsetting. But maybe it will get away with it," he added.
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