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CASE SETTLED: JUSTICE TO BREAK
Redmond, Wash. (SatireWire.com) — Microsoft and the U.S. Justice Department Friday announced a settlement in their landmark anti-trust case that calls for the break up of Apple Computer, as both sides agreed Apple's history of "self-inflicted, anti-competitive" management practices is primarily to blame for turning Microsoft into an illegal monopoly.
"We had already won the case, so we were thinking in terms of penalties, and when you do that, it is imperative that you punish those most responsible," said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Charles James. "Well, we couldn't ignore that since its inception, Apple had numerous opportunities to dominate the operating system market, but instead, management incompetence and arrogance resulted in decisions that gave us the Microsoft we know today."
"We believe it's time for Apple to pay for that market manipulation," he added.
In a press conference supporting the settlement, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates tearfully recalled "disturbing, half-blocked memories" of a young Microsoft's life.
"We never wanted to become a monopoly, but (Apple) pretty much forced us into it," said an obviously bitter Gates. "Everybody knew they had the best computer. Everybody knew they had the best operating system. But what did they do? Time and time again, they let us win."
"I didn't recognize it at first. I thought they were genuinely trying," he added. "But when they came out with the Newton, I should have known they were purposely steering us toward market domination. I feel... used."
Attorneys general from 18 states, which had originally sought aggressive penalties against Microsoft, said they were satisfied with the agreement, and noted that Microsoft likely would have won on appeal by claiming entrapment.
"We could have punished Microsoft, but that wouldn't have solved the problem. Apple would still be around to do it all over again," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. "No, you can either penalize the monster, or you can penalize Dr. Frankenstein. We choose the latter."
Under the agreement, Apple must pay for all of Microsoft's legal fees, and will be allowed to continue making one only one product. Reached at Apple's headquarters, CEO Steve Jobs said he had not decided what product that would be, but was leaning toward the new iPod MP3 music player, "because we've invested heavily in it, and it's probably not going to sell."
In the anti-trust case, Microsoft had been charged with using unfair tactics to crush competition and restrict choice by manipulating computer manufacturers and consumers into using Microsoft's operating systems and browsers. None of this would have happened, Constitutional scholars agreed, if Apple hadn't made "so many amazingly bad business moves" over the years.
This anti-competitive, pro-Microsoft-monopoly behavior began in the 1980s, when, unlike Microsoft, Apple refused to license its operating system to other computer makers to build clones. In an even more disastrous decision, Apple licensed its software to Microsoft so it could develop applications for the Macintosh operating system. Not long thereafter, Microsoft came out with its first Windows product, which looked "remarkably like" Apple's.
"'Hey Bill, here's the source code to our operating system. But no cheating!'" quipped Blumenthal. "I think we should shut down Apple on that move alone."
As the years went by, Apple management's reaction to its steady decline was to insist that its products would win because they were better, and to continually charge more for them until, by 1994, it decided it would allow clones to be built after all. This was followed by the decision that it would not allow clones to be built after all, then by a decision that it would allow it, then it wouldn't, and finally, no one cared.
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