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Do Unto Microsoft...
From the Editors: Our top ten list of alternative punishments for Microsoft..

10.Nationalize the company
Many observers agree the Federal government is lagging in creating a bureaucracy appropriate to the digital age. We cannot afford to fall behind the Japanese in this critical area.
The Solution? Make Microsoft a Federal Agency.

Possible Problems - Plan backfires. Microsoft seizes power. Bill Gates names himself Supreme CEO of new North American Techno-state. Democracy crumbles. Capital shifted to Redmond.

Analysis - Bad Idea.

9.Force Microsoft to open up Windows source code
Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig has suggested one appropriate punishment might be to force Microsoft to open up its source code.

Possible Problems - Creation of dozens, if not hundreds of new software companies specializing in evil software programs, bloated code, draconian licensing policies, family friendly e-commerce solutions.

Outcome - Global chaos, destruction of civilization.

Analysis - Really bad idea.

8.Liquidate the Company.
The ultimate government run fire-sale.

Competitors like Sun Microsystems will jump at the chance to pick up their arch-rival's divisions at bargain basement prices. The proceeds of the sale will make a real difference to the national bottom line.

Selling point for Republicans - billions divided between 300 million Americans could make a nice fat refund check for every American taxpayer.

Selling point for Democrats - Proceeds would build one really big school or create one middling-size slush fund.

Analysis - Worth considering.

7.Liquidate the Company - Literally
Authorize death squads to kill all current, former Microsoft employees, their families and all known business associates, destroy company facilities and equipment.

Bonus - Stalin would approve.

Analysis - Too controversial. Constitutional Issues to consider.

6.Ban Microsoft from the Net
The punishment must fit the crime. Unplug Microsoft's Networks from the Net for a decade. Let's see how competitive Microsoft can be using eighties-era technology and no WWW.

It worked for Kevin Mitnick.

Analysis - Poetic justice. Slashdot will approve.

5.The Hybrid
A combination of other approaches. Force Microsoft to sell off it's most profitable divisions. Nationalize Frontpage.

With only WebTV remaining under it's control, the company becomes an also-ran overnight.

Outcome - Federal government web sites created using Frontpage crash and perform strangely, causing federal agencies to award ludicrous government contracts, enact incomprehensible new regulations and issue boneheaded public decrees - fall of the United States as the sole remaining superpower.

Opportunistic North Koreans launch well-timed surprise attach on Orange County, triggering long awaited Armageddon.

Analysis - A good idea. Kind of fun.

4.Community Service Approach.
Assign Microsoft employees, shareholders, and co-branded business partners a collective punishment.

A grand total of 35 million hours of community service, to be performed on consecutive weekends until completed.

This will be the largest federal works project since the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.

Microsoft employees become a familiar sight on the sidewalks of New York, Los Angeles and other American cities, as they clean up trash, repaint old buildings and otherwise improve living conditions in urban America.

Alternate suggestion - Make them build a dam.

Analysis - Not harsh enough

3.Congressional Oversight
Appoint special congressional task force authorized to oversee every aspect of Microsoft's day-to-day business operations.

All company decisions require a special congressional hearing before implementation. Company meetings televised on C-Span for benefit of general public and competitors.

Analysis - Boring/Waste of Taxpayer Dollars.

Public Service Announcements
Force Bill Gates to record a series of public service announcements warning network television audiences about the dangers of violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1931.


"Hi. I'm Bill."

"I thought violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1931 was cool.

Fact is, I just didn't care what happened to me or my extended family of tens of thousands of employees.

Now they've taken away my company, my boats, my friends...I've lost everything.

Violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1931 isn't cool.

It's stupid. Don't Do it.



Analysis - Potential for national amusement

1.Brand the company forever with the mark of shame.

In light of the severity of the crime and considering the options available to it, the court should impose the harshest possible punishment, one which will remind computer users of Microsoft's crimes and serve as a warning to other corporations that may consider using similar tactics in the future.

Force Microsoft to do business for the next one hundred years under the nameĀ….



Analysis - Highly Recommended.

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