Opinion: Would two Microsofts be better off than one?
By Preston Gralla
January 18, 2010 06:00 AM ET
Computerworld - Nearly 10 years ago, on April 3, 2000, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered that Microsoft be broken up into two companies -- one to develop and sell operating systems, and the other to develop and sell other types of software. The order came as a result of a federal antitrust suit against the company and a finding of fact that said Microsoft had abused its monopoly power.
Jackson's order was overturned by an appeals court
, and in November 2001, Microsoft
and the U.S. Justice Department settled; Microsoft was allowed to stay intact. At the time, Microsoft officials breathed a sigh of relief that they would not have to break up the company.
Ten years on, Microsoft is struggling to maintain its dominance in a world in which Google thrives, Apple is resurgent, and the Internet has arguably become more important than operating systems. Where would Microsoft be today if it had been split in two a decade ago? There's no way to know, of course, but I think there's a reasonable chance that the two resulting companies would have thrived and been better able to fend off Google, Apple and other competitors.