Microsoft Antitrust Case and ENGG1150

date: Dec 12, 2017
- Thesis
language: English
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During the ENGG1150 course, one key event I identified in the technology field is the United States v. Microsoft Corp., or called Microsoft Antitrust Case, where Microsoft is accused of becoming a monopoly by using anti-competitive practices. This event happened at the beginning of the Internet era, and in this case, Internet technologies including web browsers (Internet Explorer/Netscape) and Their Plugins (Java/ActiveX) are involved in this event. Microsoft is believed to use excessive unfair methods to stop people from using the products from its competitors such as web browsers like Netscape and Opera and web plugins like Java and to promote Microsoft’s own product, that is, Internet Explorer and ActiveX [1].

Web browser is born basically made it more accessible for public to access Internet faster, and web plugins help extend the basic functionality of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) to be more interactive with animations, buttons and more. In the early age, they made browsing internet a lot easier, and more fun. Java is one of the representative at the time, it is one of the first “portable” programming language. With its mobility, it works on a lot of devices now including mobile phones, tablets, IoT devices, Portable software, etc., but because its ability of “Write Once, Run Anywhere” (WORA), it is widely used in webpages initially. [3] However, for Microsoft, this became a mistake. Java first collaborated with the Netscape web browser, and they started to become popular at the time. [4] Inside Microsoft, they are so nervous so that they needed a way to dominate the Internet market fast. So, they implement a few methods to achieve their goals, including bundling with Windows 95/98, providing financial help to Apple in return of using IE (Microsoft Internet Explorer) as their default web browser for MacOS, and making an internet plugin system called ActiveX similar to Java, according to the court record [1]. This movement soon made Microsoft won this Internet war, but this also raised the concern of misuse of market domination. In such concern, the lawsuit was filed by US Government to Microsoft.

Microsoft lost eventually as I mentioned in my Pre-Debate Writeup and Post-Debate Summary. As requested by court, Microsoft must provide support for other platforms in terms of software and standards such as providing Microsoft Office suite for Mac OS and provide OLE standard support for both Linux and Mac OS; Also, they must provide several versions of windows requested by USA court and later other organizations [4] [5]: Windows LTS (For business), Windows N (For European market), Windows K (For South Korea Market), and Windows KN (For general). One important impact from this event is that a computer platform cannot use ways to try dominating the market or use their market domination to enforce some actions, and this event caused future lawsuits on similar events, such as Android, which is sued by European Commission in 2016 due to its domination in mobile phone market [6]. This eventually helped creating a better atmosphere in the software industry. This also helped people realized the possibility of pross-platform, and Java is mostly the number one programming language for a very long time. This also raised an issue that how companies should deal when their product dominates the market.

Other than that, this event also starts a new trend of cross-platform application. As People at Oracle believe, Java is “Write Once, Run Anywhere”. This made it possible to bring applications on multiple platforms without the “Application Barrier of Entry”, and with the chance of the Microsoft Antitrust Case, cross-platform technology made “Application Barrier of Entry” of operating systems to start fading away. In recent years, cross-platform technologies are becoming widely used and implemented: Firstly, Python, then Mono Native, following with NodeJS, React Native and more. Even Microsoft introduces .NET Core, the cross-platform programming framework for people to use. [7] We can clearly see that in the future, programs will become more portable and extensive, and thus people have a better flexibility when choosing the platform. But another concern raised that how user should choose their platform when there is no “Application Barrier of Entry”. This conflict will be continuing in the future, and we can wait and see how it will be in the future.
This course helped me identify this famous case and facts that I have not realized before. And I have already identified key ideas and start to take actions by moving my programming work from platform-limited applications like WPF framework and GNOME GTK framework to cross-platform ones like Python and Electron(NodeJS-based) frameworks. This helps me identify the transition and decide what framework in the future I should use to catch up the coming-up trends.


[1] U.S. v. Microsoft Corporation, vol. 253. 2001, p. 53.
[2] “History of Java Technology”,, 2017. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Dec- 2017].
[3] E. Ladd and J. O’Donnell, Using HTML 3.2, Java 1.1, and CGI. Indianapolis, Ind.: Que Corp., 1997.
[4] P. Thurrott, “Microsoft to Begin Selling Windows XP K and KN Editions in South Korea This Week”, IT Pro, 2006. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Dec- 2017].
[5] B. Johnson, “European version of Windows 7 will not include browser”, the Guardian, 2009. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Dec- 2017].
[6] D. Goldman, “Google charged by EU with antitrust in Android lawsuit”, CNNMoney, 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Dec- 2017].
[7] P. Carter and Z. Knezevic, “.NET Goes Cross-Platform with .NET Core”, Microsoft Developer Network, 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Dec- 2017].