28/11/2001

Apple CEO speaks out about Microsoft settlement

Heightening tensions between the two computer giants, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has accused Microsoft of using the proposed terms of its antitrust settlement to its advantage.

In order to bring an end to the long-running legal dispute over its dominance of the market, Microsoft has suggested donating over $1 billion worth of software to America’s poorest schools over a five-year period. But speaking at a court hearing into the issue, Mr Jobs warned that such a move would inevitably only serve to strengthen Microsoft’s grip on the educational sector, stating that he was “baffled” that a settlement imposed against Microsoft for breaking the law should allow them to expand their presence into other markets.

In addition, other critics have described the proposal as an astute move by Microsoft, as the company will be able to count such donations of software at full market value in terms of tax while the actual cost of supplying the schools with the items will be negligible.

However, Mr Jobs’ comments may hide a secret agenda of their own, as such a donation from Microsoft would inevitably threaten Apple’s position in the educational sector where so far it has enjoyed significant sales.

Others have welcomed the news, including some of those involved in bringing the antitrust actions against Microsoft. Lawyer Michael Hausfeld said that he thought the move would help close the ‘digital divide’ and provide greater access to computers for students from all background.

“We clearly have a choice,” he added. “We can spend several years and a great deal of money fighting the private antitrust cases in the courts for a few dollars benefit per claimant, or we can force Microsoft to assist economically challenged children now.” (CL)

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