Sun Microsystems
I've been Harmed

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By Conehead
March 11, 2002

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The post I'm replying to is an obvious troll. But I've decided to reply with a short informational post about the SUNW lawsuit against MSFT and try to debunk a few common misconceptions. [note: it ended up not being so short.] I am a frequent poster on the Sun board, and know that I have a pro-Sun bias. But I'll try to keep post completely factual. I appreciate responses that try to keep that same type of objectivity.

I'd first recommend that people interested in the lawsuit read While this obviously only covers Sun's viewpoint, it does do a good job of laying out the details of the suit. The gist of the lawsuit is that Sun alleges that Microsoft is using its desktop Windows monopoly to control the workgroup server and software markets. Explicitly named are Webservers, .NET, and office software. This lawsuit is much broader in scope than Sun's original Java lawsuit. Sun is seeking monetary damages, an unbundling of Microsoft's products, and forcing Microsoft to open the Windows API's and formats.

Now for my responses to the original post.

Our competitors won't carry or sell our products.

We've tried to put them out of business but they keep making better products then us. We've even grouped together with other companies who make over priced inferior products too, yet they keep getting market share because they make better products and give the consumer value.

This is all misinformation. Sun has no desire for Microsoft to carry or sell Sun products. Nor does Sun have any desire to sell Microsoft products.

I also think that "making better products than us" clouds the issue. In the areas where Sun and Microsoft directly compete (such as Webservers and LDAP servers), Sun is generally perceived as having the higher quality, but more expensive, product. Microsoft has averaged about a 20.5% annual gain in stock price over the last five years. Sun has averaged about 20.6%. Both are very successful technology companies. Portraying this lawsuit as a desperate attempt of Sun to get the government to rescue it does a disservice to both companies.

We also want damages because they make a better product, lets go back 4-5 years and figure out how much money they made and then we'll tell you what we lost out on because we make overpriced products that people don't want.

Sound fair?? I thought would think it's fair ;)

What a BUNCH of crybaby losers.

Lot's of people want Sun products. Quarter to quarter variances aside, Sun dominates its market segment. And, again, challenging the quality of a Sun products is a losing battle.

More than anything, this is a preemptive lawsuit. The most illustrative example is Microsoft's Active Directory versus iPlanet Directory Server. (iPlanet is a division of Sun.) These are direct competitors in the LDAP server space. iPlanet has been independently tested as much faster than Microsoft's Active Directory. It also has many more features than Microsoft's Active Directory. iPlanet currently has over 70% share in the enterprise LDAP server market and is pretty much the uncontested leader. (Just to be fair, however, iPlanet Directory Server is very expensive. Especially in comparison with Active Directory, which comes bundled with server versions of Windows.)

But if you use Windows2000 on your desktop the only LDAP server than you can use is Active Directory because Microsoft uses a proprietary protocol to communicate between desktop and server.

The bottom line of the lawsuit is whether this type of tying is legal. Is it legal for Microsoft to use its Windows monopoly to control other markets such as Webservers and directory servers? (And therefore the workgroup server market which runs these types of services.)

This isn't an open and shut case. Ordinarily there is nothing wrong with this kind of behavior. Expanding your market is definitely a normal business practice, and it is definitely Microsoft's current business strategy to use the Windows monopoly to open new markets for them.

The question is whether the Microsoft Windows monopoly requires the government to intervene for the benefit of consumers. It would be illegal for PECO (my power company) to change the frequency of my AC power so that none of my appliances worked. (And therefore had to buy PECO brand appliances.)

Is it illegal for Microsoft to use proprietary API's and formats to lock customers into Microsoft products? This isn't necessarily an easy question and is at the heart of the lawsuit.


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