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NPR's Morning Edition
Broadcast 22/11/1999, Story 3

In a surprise move judge thomas penfield john jackson has appointed a mediator in the microsoft anti trust case on friday you chose richard posner a highly respected federal judge from chicago

Jackson appointed posner to mediate a deal that could lead to an out of court settlement but so far microsoft and justice department lawyers are very far apart n. p. r.'s john mcchesney spoke with microsoft presidency bomber about the case and jackson's harsh assessment of microsoft's business practices

Forty three year old steve bomber is built like a tank and sometimes he reacts like one responding to the justice department assault on microsoft a couple of years ago he snapped to heck with janet reno he now says he regrets making that remark but it was vintage ball mark he's known for blunt talk and podium pounding enthusiasm

With microsoft since nineteen eighty he was appointed company president in nineteen ninety eight and he's taken over the day to day operations of the company well bill gates devote himself to long term strategy

Many observers think that microsoft has been mistaken in the way that stonewalled the government on this case but bomber says stonewalling is not

Accurate description of the company's posture

We've been consistent or inconsistent would like nothing better than to settle this case get this behind us but now there is an important principle which we can't give up on which is do we really routine the ability to take twenty year old lost their somehow it's up to clear the discussion do we keep the right which all american companies have to continuously improve its products provide

In a way that no price consumers would benefit and looking back over the last seven eight years of microsoft's practice any regrets about the way they've done business and regrets about doing things like that no

We have with passion would be

Interests of consumers first on our agenda i don't feel bad about that occasionally stylistically i think we knew we appear to have sharpened competitive but i wouldn't sacrifice anything if it involves sacrificing the anti war we've done to improve our products in ways that i think that have really helped

Some people get three things done and there was some judges said you have to say no you guys think you have access to such as you know judge declared that we have judges but there's ruling that our work is brought down prices and improve the quality of internet browsing the judge was absolutely crystal clear that everything we've got significant but not everything in our technological work has absolutely benefit consumers he was crystal clear about that

He also said comments come to us as a result of some of the things like that

The judge speculates we would respectfully disagree the judge speculates about innovation that might have happened that didn't happen but he's quite clear that in the here and now what we did was right doctor consumers bomber

The judge circulates we would respectfully disagree the church speculates about innovation that might have happened that didn't happen but he's quite clear that in the here and now what we did was right doctor bomber

I think that it's a sad day in america when you're told to stop improving your product when this reporter interjected that monopolies are supposed to play by different rules because of the anti trust laws he took exception

All companies are allowed to serve consumers they're encouraged to all the laws designed to encourage companies to improve their products to lower their prices are teachers entirely consistent with what the law encourages

There may be other things that are in a dead issue and we're switch that you know we're open to resolving this case would love to resolve this case on the fundamental issue of candidate of stability in court innovation in a skillet heat to keep our products moving forward all the slaughter every bit of case law ever in this country has upheld that

So is bomber right that the judges assertions of consumer harm are mere speculation is what george washington university law professor william about six and

In many ways the judge's assessment of harm to consumers does involve guesses about the future the judge is saying that they had microsofts the gave differing way consumers who would have seen the emergence of a wider array of products there is an element of speculation and guesswork about that but what is striking about the judge's findings is how emphatically he believed that that would have been the course of the violence

About six says the important thing to note here is that the judge is not involved in idle speculation but is projecting forward based on the testimony of experts and competitors and what about bombers assertion of microsoft's monopoly status doesn't she

And the rule the company has to play under

Again when hugo classic dominant firms must play by rules that are not binding on smaller firms once a company achieves a market position of say fifty percent of the market or more

The interest that you tend to impose tighter controls on the specific tactics that dominant firms can you know in many respects microsoft in fact is playing in an arena in which separates more restrictive rules apply to it and not to it's laws are competitors

Some microsoft trial watchers have speculated that microsoft is betting on a republican

In the upcoming election a victory that might bring in the department of justice inclined to be more lenient with microsoft again steve bomber

Knowing that i i don't think that

That's realistic expectation we we like all other companies and citizens will consider expressed our views to the political system that uses of cases in the courts and and that certainly is where we need to establish the things that the law should be clear on which are clearly on our side

A more sympathetic administration is not the only possible outcome of a delaying strategy some observers have argued that if microsoft can hold out long enough the high technology marketplace will have changed enough to render the government's case is meaningless

I guess it's part of a strategy known in our world does change of the world of high technology not only world's great change quote in quote place of great innovation and competition and there are hundreds of companies to interesting work that could very well render a lot of what we're doing today obsolete are irrelevant or unimportant years at work we we you know are the most successful kind of plan that that's what we tried to do we try to do good work

Judge jackson has left it up to his newly appointed mediator to convene any meetings between the two parties given the hard lines that have been drawn by both sides still have his work cut out for him if the two sides do agree to meet and try to settle john mcchesney n. p. r. news san francisco

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