US president Bill Clinton said he was waiting to here from the Justice Department about any antitrust implications of Microsoft's decision to take a $150 million stake in Apple.
Clinton was asked, during presidential question time on the same day the agreement was announced in Boston, whether he was "troubled at all by the phenomenal growth of the Microsoft Corporation" and whether he was considering "putting any limits on that growth".
The president hedged, refusing to comment on the new deal but admitting there had been "various legal issues relating to Microsoft's organisation and operations" during his time in office. "All I can tell you is we will treat them in the same way we would anyone else," he said. "I have to wait to hear from the [Justice Department] about whether there are any antitrust implications to this.
However, some analysts believe one of Microsoft's motives in buying the stake is, in fact, to reduce antitrust heat by appearing to prop up one of the only competitors to Windows. Although the deal boost Microsoft's Mac software business, especially by making Internet Explorer standard on Apple platforms, the stake is not sufficiently large to enable the giant to direct policy entirely to its advantage - especially with arch enemy Larry Ellison, head of Oracle, on the board. Microsoft gains no voting rights via the deal. This has made observers look for other motives, one of which may be to divert Justice Department attention.
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