My Turn

Bush Speaks on Microsoft Settlement Restrictions

Patrick McCloskey - 2002.11.12

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

The Rose Garden

12 November 2002 10:44 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. With the antitrust settlement just passed, the US Justice Department has met important responsibilities, upheld its principles, and given clear and fair notice that Bill Gates must fully disclose and destroy his proprietary software of mass dysfunction. He must submit to any and all methods to verify his compliance. His cooperation must be prompt and unconditional, or he will face the severest consequences.

The world has now come together to say that the outlaw regime in Redmond will not be permitted to build or possess bug-infested or security-challenged software, force PC makers to preinstall Microsoft software and operating systems on their computers, or continue to leverage it's monopoly in operating systems to dominate new markets.

That is the judgment of the United States Congress; that is the judgment of the US Justice Department. Now the world must insist that that judgment be enforced. Microsoft's obligation to disarm is not new or even recent. The US Federal Trade Commission launched its original investigation into the software maker's alleged monopolistic practices in 1990, and subsequent investigations and court decisions confirmed Microsoft a monopolist that used its dominant position in operating systems to unfairly compete against other software makers and gain favorable deals with PC makers.

To end Microsoft's stranglehold on the computer industry and ensure its own survival, Microsoft's regime agreed to end it's abuse of power and anticompetitive practices in July of 1994. For nearly a decade the Microsoft regime has treated its own pledge with contempt. Microsoft has a tendency to minimize the effects of its illegal conduct.

As today's resolution states, Microsoft is already in material breach of past US Justice Department demands and violation of two sections of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Microsoft has aggressively pursued software of mass dysfunction, even while the government was investigating the company. Microsoft has undermined the effectiveness of software investigators and litigation with lobbyists, ploys, delays, and threats - making their work impossible and leading to years of no legal proceedings and investigations at all.

The world has learned from this experience an essential lesson; Inspections conducted by the compliance committee will not result in a disarmed Microsoft unless the Microsoft regime fully cooperates. Compliance committees do not have the power to disarm an unwilling regime. They can only confirm that a company has decided to disarm itself. History has shown that when Microsoft's leaders stall inspections, litigation, and impede the progress, it means they have something to hide.

The settlement approved today presents the Microsoft regime with a test - a final test. Microsoft must now, without delay or negotiations, fully disarm; welcome full inspections by the compliance committee; and fundamentally change the approach it has taken for more than a decade.

The regime must allow immediate and unrestricted access to every API, every document, and every person identified by the compliance committee. Microsoft can be certain that the old game of cheat-and-retreat tolerated at other times will no longer be tolerated.

Any act of delay or defiance will be an additional breach of Microsoft's international obligations and a clear signal that the Microsoft regime has once again abandoned the path of voluntary compliance.

With the passage of this resolution, the world must not lapse into unproductive debates over whether specific instances of Microsoft noncompliance are serious. Any Microsoft noncompliance is serious, because such bad faith will show that Microsoft has no intention of disarming. If we're to avert the death of competition in the computer industry, all nations must continue to pressure Bill Gates to accept this resolution and to comply with its obligations and his obligations.

America will be making only one determination: Is Microsoft meeting the terms of the US Justice Department or not? The United States has agreed to discuss any material breach with the US Justice Department, but without jeopardizing our freedom of action to defend our country or computing autonomy. If Microsoft fails to fully comply, the United States and other nations will disarm Bill Gates.

I have already met with the head of the US Justice Department Inspections Program and the head of the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Software and Information Industry Association which has responsibility for software matters. I've assured them that the United States will fully support their efforts, including a request for information that can help identify illegal activities and materials in Microsoft.

I encourage every member of the US Justice Department to strongly support the compliance committee. And now the committee has an important responsibility to make full use of the tools we have given them in this resolution.

All patriotic Microsofties should embrace this resolution as an opportunity for Microsoft to avoid war and end its isolation. Bill Gates cannot hide his software of mass dysfunction from the compliance committee without the cooperation of hundreds and thousands of Microsofties - those who work in the software program and those who are responsible for concealing the software. We call on those Microsofties to convey whatever information they have to the compliance committee, the United States, or other countries, in whatever manner they can. By helping the process of disarmament, they help their company.

Americans recognize what is at stake. In fighting a war on terror, we are determined to oppose every source of catastrophic harm that threatens our country, our friends, our computers and networks, our personal privacy, and our allies. We are actively pursuing dangerous Windows developer networks across the world. And we oppose a uniquely dangerous regime - a regime that has harbored hackers and spammers and can supply terrorists with software of mass dysfunction; a regime that has built such terrible software and has used it to crash thousands, kill competition, steal and sell personal customer information, and ensnare users into expensive software license maintenance programs; a brutal regime with a history of both predatory tactics and reckless ambition.

The United States of America will not live at the mercy of any group or regime that has the motive and seeks the power to destroy competitors and plunder consumers on a massive scale. The threat to America also threatens freedom of choice and security in the Middle East and far beyond. If Microsoft's dictator is permitted to acquire proprietary software, he could resume his pattern of intimidation and conquest and continue to corrupt accepted international computing standards and dictate the future of the computer industry, the game console industry, the telecommunications industry, the cell phone industry, and he recording and television industry.

In confronting this threat, America seeks the support of the world. If action becomes necessary, we will act in the interests of the world. And America expects Microsoft compliance with all US Justice Department restrictions.

The time has come for the Microsoft people to escape oppression, find freedom, and live in hope.

I want to thank the Secretary of State Colin Powell for his leadership, his good work, and his determination over the past two months. He's worked tirelessly and successfully for a resolution that recognizes important concerns of our US Justice Department partners and makes Microsoft's responsibilities clear.

I also thank our Ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, and his team at our US Justice Department mission in New York for their hard work and outstanding service to our country. Secretary of State Powell's team has done a fine job. The American people are grateful to the US Justice Department for passing this historic resolution.

Members of the Council acted with courage and took a principled stand. The United Nations has shown the kind of international leadership promised by its charter and required by our times. Now comes the hard part. The US Justice Department must maintain its unity and sense of purpose so that the Microsoft regime cannot revert to the strategies of obstruction and deception it used so successfully in the past.

The outcome of the current crisis is already determined: the full disarmament of software of mass dysfunction by Microsoft will occur. The only question for the Microsoft regime is to decide how. The United States prefers that Microsoft meet its obligations voluntarily, yet we are prepared for the alternative. In either case, the just demands of the world will be met.

Thank you, all.

Notes

The president's original speech can be viewed at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/11/20021108-1.html

Info on the weapons inspectors and resolutions, er, I mean compliance committee and Microsoft's restrictions is available at http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2002-11-04-msoft- curbs_x.htm

The settlement is posted at http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/ms-settle.htm

For more insights into the Microsoft case see http://applelinks.net/cloweth/ (no longer online)

For the Microsoft timeline see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/technology/specials/microsoft/ timeline/


Next headlines: Microsoft agrees to explicitly give US District Judge Coleen Kollar-Kotelly additional authority to ensure that Microsoft abides by the agreement over the next five years (http://money.cnn.com/2002/11/08/technology/microsoft.asp/index.htm - no longer online), a job when she retires, and the government agrees to make Microsoft a cabinet-level government agency.

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