Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wed - Microsoft pays out for last private law-suit

Microsoft yesterday paid RealNetworks $761M in an agreed settlement and brought to an end the long string of private law-suits over the last eight years stemming from anti-trust cases.

The settlement silences one of Microsoft's few remaining outspoken critics as RealNetworks had campaigned aggressively to attain restrictions on Microsoft's ability to include its media player as a default icon in Windows.

Mind you, Microsoft won the battle over media players a while ago, forcing RealNetworks to change strategy and become a provider of multimedia content rather than a software company.

As a part of the wider agreement with RealNetworks, Microsoft's MSN service will promote RealNetworks online subscription music services, Rhapsody, as well as its digital games.

But, its Microsoft who really wins yet again, paying out cash to keep competitors at bay, often after they have beaten them, while the courts just keep 'reviewing matters' whithout fundamentally changing Microsoft's market behavior.

In the past eight years Microsoft has settled eight private anti-trust cases for a total of $3.73bn.

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