December 29, 2000, 9:17 AM — MICROSOFT BROUGHT THIS upon itself
That was the message at a press conference held by the Department of Justice Wednesday afternoon to comment on the order to split Microsoft up into two separate companies as a remedy for the company's violation of antitrust laws.
"Microsoft itself is responsible" for the court's order, said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein. "Its repeated illegal actions were the results of decisions made at the highest levels of the company over a lengthy and sustained period of time."
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller agreed with Klein. "Microsoft had a lot of warning," Miller said. Miller is one of 17 U.S. state attorneys general that, along with the Department of Justice, called for the breakup of the company.
U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno praised U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's decision, saying it will benefit competition and consumers.
"The court's remedy strikes the right balance," Reno said. "The structural remedy will stimulate competition that will have a lasting impact on this important industry. And the interim conduct relief will ensure that Microsoft can't break the law while structural provisions are taking effect."
The decision is "fair and measured" and in line with the court's findings, Klein said, addressing a complaint Microsoft has voiced repeatedly since the Justice Department filed a proposal with the court for the vendor to be split into two independent companies. Microsoft maintains that a breakup is an excessive remedy.
"Indeed, [the decision] directly flows from the extensive findings and legal conclusions that the court had previously entered. That's what the law requires and that's what Jackson did," Klein said.
Microsoft's division will yield two "vibrant, strong, and successful firms," Klein added, contradicting the vendor's prediction that a division will be fatal for the future development of Microsoft products.
"Each will be free to create new exciting products and will have every incentive to compete vigorously with one another and with others in this industry," Klein said.
Iowa's Miller called the division "the least intrusive of possible divestitures" and added that it will not endanger product compatibility.