Though it may not seem like it at the moment, there was a time in the mid-1990's when Microsoft and its Windows operating system dominated the computing world.
Of course, the Department of Justice sued under antitrust laws, eventually reaching a settlement in 2001.
That settlement came to an end last week, but the lessons of the Microsoft antitrust era are still incredibly pertinent.
The Microsoft antitrust lawsuit and settlement were primarily concerned with the company's use of its dominance in the operating system market to boost sales of Internet Explorer.
As a result of the proceedings, companies that sell a variety of inter-related yet separate products have come under more scrutiny for the ways in which they tie their products together.
In fact, you should expect to see the legal theories and case law developed as a result of the Microsoft antitrust suit become more prominent in the coming years.
At the moment, there are a lot of antitrust allegations floating around between Google, Microsoft, Apple and a variety of smaller smart phone and technology companies.
Most of these claims allege that one company or another is engaging in the same exact behavior as Microsoft did a decade earlier.
For example, in the wake of the Google Books copyright lawsuit and settlement, some regulators have become concerned that Google is using its power in the search engine market to increase its presence in the digital book and smart phone markets.
Whether or not this is true remains to be seen, but just know that while the Microsoft antitrust settlement has technically expired, its legacy never will.
- Microsoft antitrust oversight expires; full text of DOJ statement (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
- Antitrust Law (FindLaw)
- BCS Antitrust Liability: DOJ Opens Official Inquiry (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)