Settlement maneuvering notwithstanding, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson still looks set to make formal what everyone already assumes–his conclusion that Microsoft has violated antitrust laws. Once he has done this, perhaps this week, he will request a remedy proposal from the Department of Justice and the 19 state attorneys general involved in the case. The involvement of a bunch of attorneys general in an election year is going to mean that public opinion could actually count for something in hatching that proposal.
So what does the public think? One answer surfaced late last week in the form of a poll. As reported by Bloomberg, 67 percent of those polled said the antitrust suit is a waste of taxpayer dollars, 55 percent said Microsoft has benefited consumers, 80 percent said the case ought to be settled out of court, and only 16 percent said the company should be broken up. USA Today’s headline over this story was “Poll: MS Case a Waste of Money.”
This poll was conducted on behalf of Americans for Technology Leadership. I had never heard of Americans for Technology Leadership, and a search on Yahoo led me to an October 29, 1999, press release announcing the organization’s debut. The release said Americans for Technology Leadership was “a new grassroots coalition.” It also cited an earlier poll “presented by” the coalition, which found that “63 percent of Americans familiar with the DOJ suit against Microsoft believe the government should not be pursuing the case and 77 percent feel that it is an example of wasteful government spending.”
There was also a link to the group’s home page. On the home page was a link to a list of the group’s founders. And if you haven’t already guessed, there on the list of founders of the “grassroots” organization, is the Microsoft Corporation.
So, uh, America has spoken.