October 10, 2004

Is the End Near for Microsoft?

Burst.com is alleging Microsoft cheated it out of licensing revenue and stole its technology to make their Corona product (a streaming media product of which the front end is Windows Media Player). One of the truly astounding facts that has just come out from under seal is that Microsoft very likely has been illegally destroying evidence throughout the multiple antitrust trials. They have done so simply by creating email destruction policies that are very aggressive and only keeping emails around when there are specific retention requests out on specific matters under litigation. the major problem with this is that some people central to the facts under litigation have apparently not been getting retention notices and merrily destroying relevant evidence for years and stretching across multiple lawsuits.

This sort of evidence spoilage, if done purposely to gain a legal advantage, can reopen all the cans of worms that Microsoft thought it had closed with various settlements and verdicts. Everything comes back because testimony that should not have been let in was let in. What's worse, testimony that should have been presented was not because Microsoft lied to the court about who the relevant players were.

Why this sort of evidence spoilage is going on might be divined from the actual policy on email destruction. Yet Microsoft refuses to release said policy and apparently has never presented it in any of its prior rounds in the courts. Normally all this would be under seal but the judge has ruled that this issue is better out in public. The two relevant PDF links are here and here.

Personally, I don't believe in antitrust law. An honest monopoly isn't something that is going to brew that many problems in my opinion. The problem is plain old corporate lying, cheating, and stealing. Since Microsoft is immense and immensely influential, when it engages in such corporate misconduct the bad effects tend to be bigger both in dollar terms and in terms of damage to our economic system.

An honest Microsoft would be a real boon to our economy and to the world. Unfortunately, we haven't seen an honest Microsoft in many years. The more they use corrupt practices and tactics, the less they are a benefit and the more they are a hidden drag on us. And to this day we still can't figure out how bad the problems are. After all, after thirty days, they delete the email.

Posted by TMLutas at October 10, 2004 03:54 PM