IN THE NEWS #423 - Microsoft Ruling

By Jerilyn Watson

This is ________with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.

The federal judge who found Microsoft guilty of breaking the law now wants to decide soon on the future of the company. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson has set hearings to begin in Washington on May Twenty- fourth.

He will decide how to reduce Microsoft's control of the computer software industry. He has asked for proposals from the federal government and the nineteen states that brought action against Microsoft. Judge Jackson ruled Monday that the world's largest maker of computer programs violated fair-competition laws. He called its measures "oppressive."

Microsoft will appeal the ruling. The appeals process can take months. But earlier this week Judge Jackson told lawyers for both sides that he did not want the case to continue that long. He suggested the possibility of an appeal directly to the United States Supreme Court.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, however, says he believes the issues in the case are too difficult to be considered in a hurry. The company plans to base its arguments on a Court of Appeals decision in Nineteen-Ninety-Eight. That decision supported Microsoft.

Judge Jackson ruled that Microsoft illegally protected its Windows operating system against competition. He also ruled that the company illegally linked its Internet Explorer software to Windows. He said Microsoft attempted to completely control the market for browser programs for Internet users. The judge said these activities violated anti-trust laws.

Such laws were written to prevent any one company from unfairly controlling a whole industry. The judge supported Microsoft on only one small point.

Judge Jackson's ruling was widely expected. He had presented similar findings last November, after months of trial. Since then, four months of talks between Microsoft and government lawyers failed to produce a settlement.

Investors reacted to the ruling by selling shares in Microsoft and other technology companies. On Tuesday, Microsoft shares lost more than fourteen-percent of their value. The Nasdaq Composite Index of technology stocks fell by almost eight percent. By the end of the trading week, however, both Microsoft and the Nasdaq Index had gained strength.

On Wednesday Bill Gates attended a White House conference on the nation's economy. President Clinton invited the world's richest man to talk about how to spread technology to the poor. The next day, Mr. Gates appeared in the first of a series of paid thirty-second messages on television. He does not talk about his company's legal troubles. Instead, he talks about how Microsoft began with the idea of using the personal computer to improve people's lives.

This VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS was written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm _________.

Voice of America Special English